Touchdowns and Turnarounds: Wildcats Lose Homecoming Game to Bears 21-8

Players on both sides prepare for the next snap, during a heated showdown between the Lake Zurich Bears and the Libertyville Wildcats.

Jeffrey McLaren

Players on both sides prepare for the next snap, during a heated showdown between the Lake Zurich Bears and the Libertyville Wildcats.

One of the most important games of the year, the Libertyville/Lake Zurich football match-up of September 30, 2022 cannot be overstated in terms of importance. Both the Bears and the Wildcats were coming into the game with high spirits, each still celebrating a win from the previous week, Libertyville over Waukegan, and Lake Zurich over the previously state-ranked Warren Blue Devils. This game, the homecoming game for LHS, was in the end a hard fought battle that saw Lake Zurich emerge the winners over Libertyville, but not without the home team fighting until the very last second on the clock and putting up a valiant effort against their opponents.

The game began with the ball in the hands of the Bears, giving them the first possession of the game to put momentum on their side. While they gained a significant amount of ground, the Cats powered through and managed to hold off a field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless going into their first possession, kicking off a series of maneuvers that did not go unnoticed by eager fans. One moment of note was a spectacular catch by Kristian Gavric (7). The senior wide receiver later spoke about the game and his role on the team.

“I like to feel like I make a good impact on my team by calling my teammates and also holding myself accountable,” said Gavric. “When I make a mistake, I admit it and then we move on, and when my teammate makes a mistake, you have to call them out so they can move on.” 

Ultimately, the first quarter ended with the ball in the hands of Lake Zurich, but with the score still 0-0.

Like its predecessor, the second quarter began with Lake Zurich in possession of the ball. This time, Lake Zurich threw everything they had at the Wildcats, and managed to clinch the first touchdown of the game, giving them an even six points on the board. A conversion sealed the deal, and the Cats quickly found themselves facing a seven-point deficit. Still, great plays and moments of glory by several Wildcats kept morale running high and the drive to success going, including a first down snagged by junior Luka Nikolich (13). Lake Zurich ultimately regained control of the ball, and despite stellar tackles by seniors Austin Gomez and Cole Matulenko, Lake Zurich ultimately managed to secure their second touchdown and one-point conversion of the game, doubling down on their lead over the Cats. 

Despite Lake Zurich’s relentless pursuit of victory over the home team, morale in the stands, on the field, and on the sidelines ran high. One player making a positive impact on the team and keeping a positive attitude is senior Caleb Christensen (75). “As a teammate, I try to bring a positive atmosphere to practice,” Christensen said. “At the end of the day, it’s just a game, and I think people should enjoy it and stop getting so angry all the time.”

The Wildcats headed into the second half with the ball in their possession and momentum on their side. Superb offensive plays and defensive maneuvers persisted throughout, and although Lake Zurich would see themselves through to their third and final touchdown of the game during the third quarter, the Cats kept up a fight, channeling all of their spirit and energy into holding Lake Zurich back, locking down even further after this final touchdown. With minutes left in the third quarter, Libertyville amassed eight points to put themselves on the board, bar the possibility of a Lake Zurich shutout, and give themselves even more to be proud of.

It’s without a doubt that much of Libertyville’s positive energy and inspirational drive comes from their coaches as well as their players. Head Coach Mike Jones spoke on some of the tactics that he and his coaching staff use to better hone the skills and emotions of their players. “You know, what we do is we set them up in situations where they can gain confidence, so that when they step onto the game field, they’re confident in what they’re doing,” Jones said. “As we work on things throughout the week, hopefully we get a better understanding of what we need to do to be successful.”