Patriots Pounce on the Wildcats

Senior night was well-enjoyed by Stevenson as they took down conference rival Libertyville 43-8


The Patriots dominated the Wildcats from start to finish, scoring six total touchdowns and one defensive safety. Five touchdowns came from the offense, and one came from an interception by Ryan Loch ’23. Photo credits: Elan Gurevich (

Although a sluggish start in the first quarter saw no points scored by both teams, the Patriots dominated from the second quarter on and controlled every aspect of the game. Stevenson won the turnover battle with two interceptions, one by Ryan Loch ’23 and the other by Ethan Agakhan ’24. The offense fired on all cylinders in the second half, led by quarterback Matt Projansky ’23 with three touchdown passes in total. 

The first quarter was a competition of who could punt the ball more with a stalemate between both teams. Both Stevenson and Libertyville had three dropped passes in the first quarter alone, flustering both coaches Brent Becker of Stevenson and Mike Jones of Libertyville. Stevenson tried to stick with their run game through the first quarter through Michael Maloney ’23 and Zach Goldman ’23 but nothing showed success. 

With just under six minutes left in the second quarter, we finally saw some action. Quarterback Quinn Schambow of Libertyville threw a slant route intended for Luke Nikolich, but Loch jumped the route and took the interception back 15 yards for the first touchdown of the game. After a sloppy initial performance, Becker believes this interception shifted Stevenson’s momentum.

“The biggest thing that changed for us [from the first to second quarter] was that pick by Loch,” Becker said. “That was the spark that lit the fire.”

Stevenson’s defense was not done after that huge defensive play. In the following Libertyville possession, Ethan Agakhan ’24 intercepted Schambow at the 30-yard line and rumbled down to within the 10-yard line. The back-to-back interceptions in the second quarter completely threw Schambow off-tempo for the rest of the game. Defensive coordinator, Brian Burja knew that getting the sophomore quarterback off-balance was the main goal going into the game. 

“Schambow has not seen a defense like us [Stevenson] all season and the main thing is trying to get him thinking and get him rattled before the snap,” Burja said. “We’ve played against a sophomore quarterback before with New Trier, and we feel confident that we can play similar to how we did in that game.”

The Stevenson defensive scheme was perfected by Burja all week in practice, and the offense capitalized off the valuable turnovers. 

With less than three minutes left in the second quarter, the Patriots ran a double reverse run play to set up wide receiver Ben Snider ’23 on the edge, and he took it the distance. Both right tackle Blake Duvall ’23 and wide receiver Jake Federman ’23 had key blocks to help seal off the Libertyville defense, and Snider increased the lead to 14-0.

Going into halftime, we saw only a glimpse of Stevenson’s offensive might. The momentum was heavily swayed toward the Patriots, and the second half proved nothing less.

The Wildcats received the ball to start the third quarter and could not get past their 15-yard line, forcing another punt. Stevenson started their first drive at their 45-yard line and put the pressure on Libertyville. Projansky kept up with the drop back passes and completed three big ones to RJ Dent ’23, Maloney and Tamer Dalloul ’23 setting the team up inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Projansky found Federman in the endzone for a touchdown and the lead kept extending.

Libertyville got the ball back on offense and repeated what they did all of the first half: punt it back to Stevenson.

After a sloppy drive by the Patriots, Becker implemented some trickery with a fake punt on fourth down and three. Colin Schultz ’23, the upback on the play, got the direct snap and took it right up the gut for the first down. On the very next play, Projansky threw an absolute dime to Dent, scoring a 37-yard touchdown. 

The Wildcats failed to capitalize on their next offensive possession, giving the ball right back to the high-powered Stevenson offense. A couple of plays after the punt, Projansky found Zach Goldman ’23 over the middle, picking up 19 yards on a quick pass. After a false start penalty from Stevenson, Projansky took matters into his own hands by scrambling 17 yards and setting up the Patriots inside the 1-yard line. Goldman finished the drive by punching in the touchdown, putting the Patriots up 34-0 after a missed PAT.

The momentum was in Stevenson’s favor and the following Libertyville possession made that clear. Free safety Gyeongwu Kim ’23 blitzed right past 3-star right tackle Trenton VanBoening and tackled Schambow in the endzone for a safety. Although the Patriot’s secondary saw minimal passes thrown their way, Kim found a way to make an impact with Stevenson’s third safety on the year, two of which came from their game against New Trier on Sept. 2. 

The Patriots received the safety punt and scored yet again. Projansky found a wide-open Snider in the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown that sealed the deal for Stevenson. Throughout the game, Projansky tallied up three touchdown passes on over 200 yards passing with multiple electrifying scrambles when under pressure from the Wildcats’ defensive line.

The final 12 minutes of the game was a running clock due to Stevenson’s over 40 point lead, but that didn’t stop the Wildcats from giving one last effort. Rocco LaVista of Libertyville took the left side and ran seven yards to the endzone. The team completed the two-point conversion, putting them on the board for the first time. 

Stevenson went into victory formation and the game ended 43-8.

Next Friday, the Patriots will be facing off against conference opponent Warren Township, in the first round of the IHSA playoffs at Warren Township High School. The Patriots lost to the Blue Devils earlier in the season 35-16, and Becker understands the pressure is on for his team.

“The focus always has to be on us,” Becker said. “We have to follow what we’ve done the past five weeks, make sure we get better every single week and play our best football.”