Disappointment is the one word most emblematic of Highland Park High School’s 21-17 football loss to Glenbrook North Friday at Wolters Field.
“I am so disappointed,” Highland Park Coach Hal Chiodo said. “We were after the conference championship and the best record in school history. We really wanted that.”
Now, with the Illinois High School Association playoffs starting next week and the Giants assured of a berth, the question is what lessons they will take from a game that cost them the Central Suburban League North Division championship.
"It can go one of two ways, we can feel sorry for ourselves or we can be more determined than ever," Chiodo said. "It’s not the part about athletics that I like but one of the greatest lessons we learn from athletics, and football especially, is how to deal with disappointment and it doesn’t get any bigger than this."
Highland Park will have to continue to do the things it did well against the Spartans like dominating the first half, taking a 17-0 lead which included a defensive touchdown. In the first half, the Giants limited the Spartans to 38 yards on the ground and 44 through the air dropping quarterback A.J. Spitz behind the line of scrimmage five times.
Giant defenders Teddy Sutker, Arrie Mitchell, Jason Goldsmith and Jacob Wiczer all spent plenty of time in the Spartan backfield pressuring Spitz. Wiczer picked up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the second half.
The defense continued its pressure in the second half but Spitz took some chances on a pair of fourth and long plays and threw touchdown passes on both. “We were in position to make plays (on both of them) and we didn’t,” Chiodo said.
Later today the Giants learn their playoff opponent. Then they will try to take the lessons from Friday’s game as deep into the post season as they can.