PALATINE — One word that you could not use to effectively describe the Fremd football team is flashy.
But another one that you could certainly choose instead would be effective.
Led by a rock-solid defensive unit that allowed next to nothing, Fremd emerged from Friday night's Class 8A opening round playoff match with Plainfield North with a 19-0 victory.
Fremd moves on to next weekend's second round, while Plainfield North closed its season a 6-4.
"Our kids they've just known that's what you do. You practice, and we're old school, and we hit," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "We're locked in a whole practice and the kids take pride in what they are doing."
It shows in the results as the Vikings (8-2) held an explosive Plainfield North offense to less than 100 total yards until late in the game. Purdue bound wide receiver Marcellus Moore did manage eight receptions, but only one of them, a 30-yard reception in the second quarter, went for more than seven yards.
"We practice awhile, and we hit in practice," Sponsel said. "Our win team, which is our scout team, the looks they give our defense in practice and how those kids sacrifice, play after play to give our team the best look possible."
They seemed prepared for everything. Plainfield North did manage to get into the red zone a few times, before the Vikings seemed to flip the switch and allow nothing more. The Tigers only dalliance in the endzone was brought back due to penalty.
"I think we just missed some opportunities, I thought we drove the ball well on them," Plainfield North coach Anthony Imbordino said. "Silly penalties. Good teams make plays, and they made them."
Fremd's offense very much a mirror of what the defense showed, more than willing to take what they were given without pressing the issue too much.
The Vikings broke through in the second quarter as both teams seemed to be determined not to allow much. But Plainfield North couldn't seem to get a good grasp on keeper Fremd quarterback Ryan Saxe for much of the night.
Saxe would score the first touchdown of the game with 3:15 to play in the second quarter to break the scoreless deadlock. It was also the first sustained drive of the game for either team as Saxe popped off a number of short passes and mixed in some quarterback keepers to keep the chains moving.
But the backbreaker came just a few minutes later, when after a short Plainfield North drive gave the ball right back to Fremd, Saxe went to work again completing two short passes before ripping off runs of 24 and another run of 37 yards that ended in the endzone with just 10.4 seconds to play before halftime.
That gave Fremd a 13-0 lead, and with the way the Vikings defense was playing, it certainly looked like more than enough cushion.
"We got good blocks up front, and I just hit the spin and saw some open field and I just went for it running as hard as I could for the endzone," Saxe said. "We like to run the ball, but we have a good mixture of runs and throws. We just followed our game plan and I thought we executed pretty well."
Saxe also has the luxury of knowing he's likely not going to have to post giant numbers in order to win games.
"Only 22 points given up in conference and now another shutout," Saxe said of the defense. "They've just been playing out of their minds."
While the result was far from what they hoped for, things were still a net positive for the Plainfield North program this season.
"We were a young team especially on defense, we've got nine coming back, so the future looks bright," Imbordino said. "The senior group was great, the character was outstanding, they are great kids. It's going to be a loss, but we made some strides as a program, breaking down some barriers and getting into the playoffs. Hopefully that's just the standard for us moving forward."