By Mark Gregory
LAKE ZURICH – In the first half, it looked as if No. 14 Plainfield North would play David and take down undefeated and No. 3 seed Lake Zurich, however, turnovers, missed opportunities and big plays by the Bears ended the Tigers’ season in the second round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs with a 27-9 loss.
“We moved the ball early OK and it was just stupid things that hurt us. You can’t have drops, you can’t have missed opportunities and stuff like that,” said North coach Tim Kane. “The first half, both teams were moving the ball and we just didn’t capitalize on opportunities and they had a couple huge plays that were the difference.
“(Lake Zurich) is a good team and their kids made plays and unfortunately, we just didn’t make as many plays as we had all year. But, credit to them, they played hard and we just made some mistakes.”
Plainfield North came out moving the ball the ball through the air as Brady Miller connected on his first 10 pass attempts.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, dropped passes and three of Miller’s four interceptions came after heading into the intermission only down 14-3.
“Their run defense was solid, but we felt like we could move the ball on them and we did in the first half, we just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities,” Kane said.
Miller ended the game connecting on 18-of-27 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown and the four picks.
Miller was one of only four returning starters from the Tigers’ second-place finish at state last season, as he joined Dillon McCarthy, Zach Nadle and Shane McGrail.
With only the four of them back, a lot of people didn’t expect North to be this far this season.
“A lot of people were doubting us and we just had to make it as far as we could and show them that North is a good program. Hopefully we can keep it going and keep winning games in years to come,” said McCarthy, who carried the ball seven times for 27 yards and caught seven passes for 68 yards and a TD. “We gave it our best shot. They are a good team, but we made a few mistakes and could have executed a little more. They are 10-0, they deserve to be 10-0 and they just came out and beat us. They beat us on a few big plays. We are proud of it. We fell a little short this year, but we still had a good year.”
Kane said while the end of the season is tough, he is proud of what the team accomplished this season/
“Nobody wants to lose, so today isn’t a very fun day, but we have great kids and we have kids who worked hard,” he said. “What they did this year with only four returning starters – they just continued to grow and learn and get better. I am so proud of them. We had great senior leadership and the sophomores and juniors got some experience. To come back this year and do what we did after losing so many guys just shows the type of kids we have.
“All of these kids came out and they got better every week of the season and that was what I told them – let’s just come out and improve every week. They are just a fun group of kids to be around.”
The four returning starters were team captains this season and their imprint on the program is not unnoticed.
“When you look at Dillon, I don’t know if there is a better football player week in and week out on the field. Today is the first day he got to play without his cast on and look at the plays he made for us all year with just one hand. He is the greatest competitor around – the kid just hates to lose. He wants the ball in his hands,” Kane said. “Brady has led our program to a lot of wins and he is a good athlete and made plays for us. Shane McGrill and Zach Nadle are both two year starters. We have been blessed to have great kids.”