Keefe, Maine South Hawks holds off New Trier for another CSL South championship
Last updated 4/17/2021 at 12:23pm
In a battle of undefeated Central Suburban League South Division powers, the Maine South Hawks defeated the New Trier Trevians 14-9 on Friday night in Park Ridge.
The win wrapped up the 19th CSL South crown for the Hawks in the 20 years Maine South head coach David Inserra has been at helm in Park Ridge. In now 100 CSL South games the Hawks have played under Inserra, the Hawks have won 99.
The Hawks had won 77 consecutive CSL South games before New Trier ended the streak on October 7, 2016, 27-21 in Park Ridge.
The Hawks rebounded from that loss and go on to win the 2016 IHSA Class 8A State Championship, under Nick Leongas, older brother of current but injured Hawks senior quarterback, Luke Leongas.
Leongas was injured in the second quarter of the Hawks 17-7 win over Glenbrook South on April 9.
Enter 6-foot-2 junior Hawks quarterback, Rowan Keefe.
Keefe engineered a pair of fourth quarter scoring drives, leading the Hawks to the 17-7 victory over the Titans.
"Since I was a little kid, coming here to watch the Hawks play, my dream was always to be the starting Maine South Hawks quarterback," Keefe said.
On Friday night, his dream came true.
Joining a 40-year list of great Maine South Hawk quarterbacks, Keefe completed 22 of his 32 passing attempts for 264 yards and a touchdown.
With New Trier (4-1, 4-1) leading 3-0 with 5:22 remaining in the half, Keefe connected with Hawks' leading receiver, senior Mike Sajenko (six catches,106 yards, TD) on a 70-yard scoring strike to give the Hawks the lead they would never relinquish, 7-3.
Three and a half minutes later, Sajenko (17 carries, 53 yards, TD) rumbled in from the three to give the Hawks a 14-3 lead at the half. A 42-yard strike from Keefe to senior wide receiver Luke Kracik (three catches, 58 yards) set up the Sajenko touchdown.
"Rowan (Keefe) is a Maine South Hawks quarterback," Sajenko said. "On his first drive of the game, he is out there playing with a bloody nose. In the second quarter, he takes a tremendous hit, bounces up and keeps on playing."
Senior Joey Pabon hauled in four of Keefe's tosses for 38 yards.
New Trier came out of their halftime locker room on fire.
The Trevians took the second-half kickoff and marched right down the field.
Senior running back Tyler Hardin crashed in from the one with 7:46 in the third quarter pulling New Trier to 14-9. The Trevians' two-point conversion attempt failed.
New Trier drove to the Hawks 27 with nine-and-a-half minutes remaining. On a fourth a one, the Trevians jumped off-sides and were penalized back to the Hawks 32. Fourth and six.
New Trier junior quarterback Nevan Creamascoli (10-for-21, 100 yards) threw a perfect strike to junior WR Harry Petrakis (seven catches, 77 yards) at the Hawks 16 yard-line,. The ball was in Petrakis' hands when Hawks junior defensive back Kevin Wolf separated Petrakis from the football and Hawks took over at their 27 with 9:16 to go.
The Hawks launched a 15-play drive that ended at the Trevian four-yard line with 1:16 left in the game.
The Hawks leading rusher on the season, Joey Dellumo (10 carries. 50 yards, three catches, 15 yards), picked up some huge first downs to keep the drive alive.
After four Creamscoli incomplete passes, Keefe lined up in the victory-formation and took a knee and Maine South were the 2021 Central Suburban League South Division champions.
"We knew New Trier was undefeated and a great team, but after we opened up the 14-3 lead at the half, we felt the game was over," Sajenko said. "They woke us up when they took the second half kickoff and went right down the field and scored.
"We played hard and it feels great to be CSL South champs again and add our names to the legacy of Maine South Hawk champions."
"It was surreal to be out there with the band and the fans," Keefe added. "I was very confident after we had a great week of practice. The coaches drew up a great game plan and I am very happy that I able to be successful. It feels great to be CSL South champions."
"This was a historic season for us," Inserra said. "This great group knew the history of Maine South High School Football and went out and added their legacy to the program. I could not be more proud of them. Rowan went out there tonight and enjoyed the moment and executed our game plan to perfection.
"Huge fourth and six play by Kevin Wolf. He sold out and broke on the ball and broke up the play. He has been very productive for us as a junior."
With no state tournament, the CSL had it set that the winner of north and south divisions were supposed to play each other for in the overall CSL Championship, on Friday, April 23 - that would place the Hawks (5-0,5-0 South) against CSL North Champion Vernon Hills (4-0, 4-0 North).
"We were told that they (Vernon Hills) refused to play us next week," Inserra said. "We have reached out to the Mid-Suburban League and to the DuPage (Valley) Conference in hopes that we can get our kids a sixth game as they were promised. I guess this is a byproduct of our great success here at Maine South. I would hope there is someone out there, who for the kids, will play us next week."