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Rockford 10/26/12 Libertyville's Conor Simpson (2) pushes off Harlem's Josh Egelston (28) | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Libertyville had more yards rushing after two carries Friday night than it had in its entire first-round playoff loss a year ago.
And the Wildcats never let up from there, dominating Harlem 48-28 in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Brian Swift began the onslaught with a 34-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. This after the Wildcats (8-2) had 27 yards on 26 carries in a 40-0 playoff loss to Rockford Boylan last year.
“Our kids did not have a good memory the last time they came to Rockford,” first-year coach Mike Jones said.
It was all good memories Friday. From Swift’s early run to quarterback Jack Deichl’s 12-for-22 passing for 226 yards to Swift’s 64 yards on 11 carries and running back Conor Simpson’s 161 yards receiving.
The Wildcats held Kevin Witcik, Harlem’s all-time leading rusher, to 13 yards rushing until they had built a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.
“We keyed on him a lot,” Jones said. “That was our emphasis. We said if they were going to beat us, they were going to beat us passing.”
Harlem quarterback Justin VanWambeke was only 4-for-17 for 53 yards with one interception in the first half, which ended with Libertyville ahead 35-6. Witcik finished with 140 yards and No. 8 seed Harlem (7-3) had 313 yards on the ground, but it was almost all in garbage time. Libertyville held the high-scoring Huskies to three-and-outs on five of their first six drives.
Simpson turned a short screen pass into a 44-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 in the second quarter. Joey Salata (64 yards on four carries) upped it to 21-0 with a 23-yard run and Simpson’s 4-yard run made it 28-0.
Witcik cut it to 28-6 with a 23-yard run 91 seconds before halftime, but that still left time for Libertyville to move 61 yards, with Deichl throwing an 18-yard TD pass to Charles Kosmach to make it 35-6 at the half.
The well-rounded Wildcats finished with 226 yards passing and 178 yards rushing and had zero turnovers. Libertyville will play the winner of a Saturday game between Glenbard West and Elk Grove in the second round.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Libertyville football team.