Victorious Zion-Benton still has plenty of room for improvement

SHARE Victorious Zion-Benton still has plenty of room for improvement

The competitive bar is about to be raised about a half-dozen notches for Zion-Benton High School’s football team.

What Zee-Bee players, coaches and fans will find out in the next five weeks is if the team’s level of play rises to clear that bar.

Friday night’s 56-7 nonconference victory over host Round Lake gave Zion a 3-1 record, with five wins needed to be eligible for playoff consideration.

But the road to those two coveted wins goes through — in order: Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Stevenson, Lake Forest, and Warren — and the level of play that got Zion three early-season wins won’t be good enough to get Nos. 4 and 5 against such elite-level competition.

So, do the Zee-Bees have room for improvement?

First-year coach Bob Moynihan — the most enthusiastic coach in this corner of the state — believes another level is there for his team to move up.

“We keep getting better every week. A lot of it is the discipline aspect of the game,” Moynihan said. “If we have the proper discipline, eliminate the minor mistakes, and play the way we’re supposed to, we can play with anyone.

“We have the talent,” the coach added. “We just need to get better every day.”

One player who is getting better every time out is senior quarterback Doug Gates. He rushed 14 times for 136 yards and two TDs against Round Lake (1-3), and also completed 8-of-16 passes for 136 yards and two scores — both to speedy Jonathan Roberts.

But even with the improvement, Zion started out moving 10 yards forward, and then five or 15 back because of penalties.

“We started slow. We had way too many penalties,” Gates said. “After that (start), we had a good game. We just have to build off of that.”

Gates is in lockstep with his coach in terms of knowing Zion has talented players, but they don’t play disciplined football the way they do at every school left on the Z-B schedule.

“We have to be disciplined,” Gates said. “The talent is there. We just have to stay disciplined to win games.”

Friday’s game was 21-0 at halftime.

The second-half oddity involved Z-B scoring three TDs in 53 seconds. Roberts caught a 39-yard TD pass from Gates with 1:42 left in the third quarter. On the first play after the kickoff, Kyree McLean of Zion picked off a pass and went 26 yards to the end zone. Then, on the first play after the next kickoff, DeVaughn Miller scooped up a fumble when the snap went over the Round Lake QB’s head while in shotgun formation and Miller took i 15 yards to the end zone with 49 seconds still on the clock.

No Zion-Benton team has won more than three games in a season since 2003, when Gary Bereiter coached the Bees into the playoffs.

As for Round Lake, the Panthers’ star was running back Chris Perry. He carried 10 times for 87 yards and caught a 44-yard TD pass from Ron Steadman. Cole Steger started the game at quarterback, but went out with an injury in the second quarter.

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