When Maine South's schedule was released for the 2011-2012 season, high school football fans across the region were instantly attracted to the September 2 game against the Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers. Etched in everyone's memory was the Tigers' 44-7 pasting over the Hawks last year. To make matters worse, the game was on national television.
Maine South would certainly respond by winning out and taking home its third consecutive class 8A state championship. However, that did not take away from the importance of this year's game, especially it being at home for Maine South.
It was clear that the Hawks would not allow the Tigers' offense to dominate again. That defense led Maine South to a 13-9 victory in front of a packed Wilson Field in Park Ridge. The Hawks proved that they deserve to be the top ranked team in the state.
"I thought we played very smart defensively," Maine South head coach David Inserra said. "We made a couple mistakes, but they're [Wheaton Warrenville South] is a good team so that's going to happen."
The game started rather ominously for the Hawks when Patrick Gardner ran in a 1-yard touchdown for the game's first score. However, after that, the Tigers' offense would not score again.
Maine South responded at the end of the first quarter when junior quarterback Matt Alviti scampered in for a 2-yard touchdown run. The PAT would be missed however and the Tigers led 7-6 after one quarter.
Midway in the second quarter, running back Paul Preston found the end zone from 1-yard out to give Maine South the lead 13-7. The Hawks' defense would take care of the rest. "The defense stepped up big time," Hawks quarterback Matt Alviti said. "We [the offense] put them in big holes and they dug it out today. It was all defense."
Maine South's offense did not play too well and on several occasions, the Tigers had excellent field position. It did not matter as Maine South's defense was dominant. "I played alright," Alviti said. "Definitely could have played better. Definitely could have made some better reads."
Down 13-9, Wheaton Warrenville South had an opportunity to score a game winning touchdown, but a 4th-and-15 would not be converted with two seconds remaining and Maine South's win would be official.
This season's 2-0 start for Maine South is the opposite of its 0-2 start last year. Despite the start, coach Inserra was cautiously optimistic. "It does feel better, but they can't be cocky. Last year, they were easy to coach when they were 0-2. When you're 2-0, it makes it a little harder to coach and they may not listen as well. Hopefully they'll get the idea."
Ironically, Wheaton Warrenville South is now 0-2. However, their losses have come to the top two teams in the state (Maine South and Glenbard West).