HIGHLAND PARK — Few people have witnessed a Highland Park football season like this one, and with good reason. It’s been 93 years since the program achieved a comparable level of success.
With a 63-0 win over Maine East on Friday night, the Giants reached 7-0 — the program’s best record since 1921.
That season, the Deerfield-Shields High School (now Highland Park) football team started 8-0 and finished 8-1 under coach J.L. Rothacker. The team won the Chicago Suburban League championship and outscored its opponents by an astronomical 267-22.
“It’s the best feeling,” defensive lineman Arrie Mitchell said. “We’re doing what people couldn’t do last year, the year before that and the year before that. It’s an honor.”
This year’s Giants will play in two more regular-season games — against Niles North and Glenbrook North — with a shot to eclipse the 93-year-old school record.
“I would like to be the first 9-0 team ever,” coach Hal Chiodo said. “This is a dream coming true, and we want to keep that dream alive.”
The 1921 team didn’t play on artificial turf, which wasn’t invented until 1965. But the 2014 Giants do, and on Friday night they ran onto their home turf at Wolters Field and blew out the Blue Demons by nine touchdowns — all scored in the first half.
Cole Greenberg scored the game’s first three touchdowns on runs of 7, 42 and 22 yards in a span of 1:59 in the first quarter. Just over five minutes later, he notched his fourth touchdown on as many touches — each immediately following a Maine East turnover forced by the Giants’ swarming defense.
“My offensive line plowed great holes for me and I just hit them,” Greenberg said. “It was a big day.”
The senior running back found the end zone twice more in the second quarter, finishing with six touchdowns and 205 yards on just 11 carries.
“It felt so great to just move a guy out of the way and then look up and see Cole running towards the end zone over and over,” senior offensive lineman Charlie Quirk said.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” Chiodo said. “Cole is playing as well as he could possibly play right now.”
Highland Park has now outscored its last two opponents — Maine West and Maine East — by an astonishing margin of 105-0. The defense has allowed just 59 points on the year, and the two consecutive shutouts have the Giants feeling as confident as ever.
“The defense has been a strength all year,” Chiodo said. “We have to keep that defensive intensity up. We’re headed into the final stretch of the season now with two big games coming up, so we want to make sure we’re hitting on all cylinders.”
“Now we get to send this film to Niles North,” linebacker Tommy Rudman said. “They’ll see that we’re not messing around.”