GRAYSLAKE — The Woodstock football team and its coaching staff had a short week to prepare for Grayslake North and its high-powered offense before the two squads met Thursday night.
Even though the Blue Streak coaches were accurately predicting the Knights' offensive plays from the sideline, it mattered little as the Knights' players found a hole on seemingly every play in the first three quarters en route to a 42-14 victory over visiting Woodstock.
"The coaching staff did a great job of preparing our players this week," Woodstock coach Steve Beard said after the loss. "It was a matter of fundamentals and key blocking mistakes that hurt us."
Grayslake North 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore quarterback Merrick Gentile captained the effective read-option offense, which gashed the Blue Streaks (0-3) for 237 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns.
Gentile was also able to find an open receiver when he was in trouble in the backfield and passed for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Knights (3-0) scored touchdowns on 6 of 9 offensive drives to open the game which spanned three quarters before taking their first-team offense off the field after a 42-0 lead.
"I need to review the film, but we need to clean up a lot of mistakes," Beard said.
On offense, Woodstock failed to get into any sort of rhythm, which led to the defense being on the field for the majority of the game. Beard said he is still doing some teaching at the quarterback position and has not committed to a starter. The coach started senior quarterback Alan Hafer but he split time with junior Jace Pohlman every other series.
Both threw the ball more than 10 times but couldn't find a rapport with the receivers until late in the fourth quarter.
"Very much so," said senior wideout Mitch Kohley when asked if catching passes from a different quarterback each series makes it tough to create a relationship on the field. Kohley finished with four catches for 43 yards, all coming in the second half.
"I have a pretty good connection with Hafer, because he's a senior and we've been able to play together a bit longer and when you see passes coming from different guys it's like working on chemistry on the fly during game situations," Kohely continued.
Each quarterback led touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter as Hafer orchestrated a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with running back Michael Santucci plunging in for a 1-yard score.
The Pohlman-led offense drove 80 yards on the next series and was capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mason Sutter. Despite the late drives, Beard still wants to see both play more before he makes a decision on who will take over the offense.
"Right now, we're sticking with both," he said. "They have both earned playing time."