For the first time since 1974, Niles West has begun a season 4-0. It was big plays that propelled the Wolves to a come-from-behind 25-20 win Friday night against Highland Park (0-4) in Highland Park.
“It’s been a long time,” Niles West coach Scott Baum said. “It’s great. All the stars have to align. These kids deserve it.”
Niles West running back Jake Glotzer scored on a 78-yard run and wide receiver Jeremiah Johnson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a score. But the Wolves trailed 20-19 late in the third quarter, when quarterback Mike McGivern threw a short pass to wide receiver Andrew Milhulet near the right sidelines at the Giants 28-yard line. Milhulet caught the pass and then made a quick cut all the way across the field and into the end zone.
“It was kind of a catch and make it happen,” Milhulet said. “I saw from the corner of my eye that the cornerback was coming up quick (after catching the ball) and I cut it back to the left side. I didn’t think I was going to break it that far outside.”
The Niles West defense stood up in the fourth quarter, as defensive back Chris Cervantes picked off a pass with 5:17 left at midfield. Highland Park had one last chance from the Niles West 37. On the game’s final play, Milhulet intercepted the pass in the end zone.
Highland Park quarterback Tommy Sutker was 17-30 for 158 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown toss to tight end Jason Goldsmith. The other Giants points came on two field goals by Josh Pollack (31, 27), while Andrew Sledd (21-76) put Highland Park in front 20-19 with his 7-yard sweep around right end midway through the third quarter.
Niles West fullback Nick Johnson scored on a 2-yard run, while catching three passes for 49 yards.
Milhulet summed up the Wolves feelings.
“It’s awesome being part of history,” Milhulet said. “It feels special.”
Notes: Glotzer was on crutches with a soft air cast after injuring his left knee on a third quarter kickoff return. His teammate, defensive lineman Vaughn Monreal-Berner also left the game in the third with an ankle injury. Highland Park’s Jarae Ward, who had 48 yards rushing and a quarterback sack, sprained his ankle just before halftime and didn’t return.