Simeon junior Malik Elzy is widely considered to be the top football prospect in the city. He has scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Tennessee and Wisconsin, among others.
Irish assistant coach Tommy Rees was at Lane Stadium on Saturday to see Elzy and the Wolverines play undefeated Kenwood.
Elzy is a receiver and a defensive back. It can be difficult for a high school receiver to affect a game, especially when his offense is struggling, which was the case with Simeon.
Heading into Saturday, the Wolverines had passed none of their tests this season. They lost to archrival Morgan Park on TV last weekend and also had lost to Joliet Catholic, Bolingbrook and Phillips.
So the Wolverines found themselves fighting for their playoff lives. With the season on the line, Elzy came alive.
He caught six passes for 90 yards, including touchdowns of 30 and 20 yards. And then he came up with the backbreaker: a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown on the Broncos’ final drive of the game to clinch Simeon’s 38-26 victory.
‘‘I feel they disrespected me by trying to play me one-on-one,’’ Elzy said. ‘‘So we took advantage of it, and you saw what happened on the field.’’
Kenwood matched up highly recruited defensive back/receiver Jalil Martin against Elzy. The pair of prospects took turns going at each other on offense and defense.
‘‘That’s my boy,’’ Elzy said. ‘‘It was a big matchup. I knew it was going to be a good one, so I came out and showed up.’’
Simeon takes a 12-7 lead over Kenwood on this 30-yard TD pass from Korey Flowers to Malik Elzy. pic.twitter.com/UFH4fc0YDs— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) October 16, 2021
Simeon (4-4, 4-1 Illini Red Bird) led 19-7 at halftime, but the Broncos dominated the third quarter and led 26-19 with 11:48 left.
Kenwood switched quarterbacks from Lou Henson to Shauntrel Meeks-Scott late in the second quarter and changed to a more pass-oriented offense.
‘‘When they came out throwing in the second half, it threw us for a loop,’’ Wolverines coach Dante Culbreath said. ‘‘They run about 90% of the time. But we made the adjustments we needed to make.’’
The Broncos (7-1, 4-1 Illini Red Bird) did a good job of limiting Simeon’s running game in the first half, but junior Andre Crews started to cause some damage in the fourth quarter.
Crews (15 carries, 95 yards, two touchdowns) scored on a four-yard run with 5:52 left to pull the Wolverines to 26-25, but they missed the extra point.
He came through again with 1:52 left, shaking off a hand to his face mask and scoring on a seven-yard run to give Simeon a 31-26 lead.
‘‘I had to trust my line,’’ Crews said. ‘‘They came through in the second half to get us the win. I needed to get in the end zone on that run. It was up to me, and I had to come through, face mask or not.’’
Biggest TD of the season for Simeon. Andre Crews on a 7-yard run. Wolverines lead Kenwood 31-26 with about 2 minutes left. pic.twitter.com/TSfhy6VzQV— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) October 16, 2021
Wolverines quarterback Korey Flowers was 9-for-15 for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
‘‘I’m proud of my young boys,’’ Culbreath said. ‘‘They aren’t really experienced on the field, but they come to practice and fight every day. Kenwood is a tough team. They are well-coached and have good size. That is a good win.’’
Meeks-Scott was 6-for-18 for 100 yards with an interception and a 51-yard touchdown pass to Kahlil Tate in the third quarter. He also rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
‘‘Simeon challenged us pretty good,’’ Kenwood coach Sinque Turner said. ‘‘We got that loss out of the way. It’s a good time to have it. We will go back to the drawing board and reconstruct some things.’’