Quran Spillman’s speed, smarts help Niles West beat Glenbrook North

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NORTHBROOK — After each offensive possession, Niles West quarterback Tommy Galanopoulos and wide receiver Quran Spillman go over to the bench and talk with offensive coordinator Mark Steger about what they’re seeing on the field.

Glenbrook North began Friday night’s game — which the Wolves won 53-24 — by giving Niles West short throws. Galanopoulos’ first five completions went for two, one, 13, six and one yards. But late in the second quarter, the trio talked about how they sensed the Spartans were vulnerable deep.

Spillman then trotted out to his position on the right side of the field with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter and looked at the cornerback lined up across from him.

“He was 10 yards back, facing me and, from watching film, we knew it was probably going to be man,” Spillman said. “He wasn’t going to let me inside, so … I told [Galanopoulos] what I thought was open” with a signal.

Galanopoulos switched the play at the line to a skinny post, which the pair works on at practice each day. The ball was snapped, and Galanopoulos dropped back as Spillman used his 4.42 speed to blow by his defender. Galanopoulos heaved the ball down the field and hit the speedster in stride for an 80-yard touchdown.

Spillman’s touchdown was a major blow to Glenbrook North (1-3) near the end of the half. It increased Niles West’s lead to 25-10, and it showed off Spillman’s best attribute.

“He’s capable of getting the ball in the end zone any time, and he did,” Niles West coach Scott Baum said.

That applies to hitches and screens, but also to kickoffs. Spillman proved that as a junior and, as a result, teams have tended to shy away from kicking the ball to him this year. Glenbrook North elected not to kick to Spillman after it cut Niles West’s lead to 25-17 with 9:10 remaining in the third quarter.

It squibbed the ball to sophomore Matt Galanopoulos instead, and the sophomore wide receiver made another huge play on special teams — he scored on a 47-yard fake punt during the second quarter — by returning the kick to the Spartans’ 5-yard line.

If teams choose to not kick to Spillman, “what do you do?” Baum asked. “Do you kick to Matt Galanopoulos? He’s OK, too. We think we have some weapons.”

After a 1-yard run began the drive, Tommy Galanopoulos found Spillman on a 4-yard slant for a touchdown. The score put Niles West (3-1) up 32-17 with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter — senior running back Brandon Costantino (23 carries, 253 yards, four touchdowns) iced the game from there — and it also proved a point about covering Spillman heading into CSL South play.

“Most teams have tried to man him up, and either it doesn’t work or I can’t connect with him,” Tommy Galanopoulos said.

Glenbrook North

• Glenbrook North senior quarterback Danny Ahern was 21-for-33 for 246 yards and a touchdown. Eleven of those passes were caught by senior David Burnside, who finished with 112 yards.

• Senior wide receiver Brice Call caught five passes for 87 yards before leaving with a left leg injury. Call was one of several Spartans to get injured on Friday night, as senior linebacker/running back Matt Tedeschi (right knee) and junior running back John Clark both left the game.

• Junior running back Mitch Schermerhorn replaced Clark and ran 23 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.

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