SYCAMORE – After the Sycamore football team defeated Montini for the first time, linebacker Jason O'Donnell said the Spartans could tell how special the victory was.
O'Donnell had 18 tackles, a hurry and half a sack in the Spartans 16-13 overtime win on Saturday, the first time in seven attempts Sycamore knocked off the Broncos in the postseason.
"You could tell right after we beat them all the emotions throughout the team," O'Donnell said. "It was a huge victory and the first time we beat Montini in our program history. It was a cool experience."
Now No. 3 Sycamore (10-1) is in the quarterfinals for the third time in four years, facing No. 2 Boylan Catholic (11-0) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Rockford.
Not only did he have the 18 tackles, he had some big stops on the day – perhaps none bigger than one that came in the second quarter. On a fourth and goal from the Sycamore 3-yard line and the Spartans ahead 6-0, O'Donnell stopped a scrambling Deontay Bell short of the end zone.
His performance earned him the Friday Night Team of the Week MVP with 443 votes. A total of 6,556 votes were cast for the Team of the Team of the Week this week.
O'Donnell was presented his MVP belt, sponsored by Rosati's in Crystal Lake, at Tuesday's practice in front of teammates and coaches. O'Donnell then answered a few questions from Daily Chronicle sports editor Eddie Carifio.
With 18 tackles, what was working for you?
O'Donnell: I mean, I have to give credit to the rest of the defense. You get one tackle, but your defensive linemen might be taking on double teams, or taking out a blocker and that leaves you open to make the play. I have to give credit to the rest of the guys on the team. When 11 guys take pride in what they do, everyone battles and does their job.
You guys had three stops inside the 10, and two of them on fourth and goal from the 2 or the 3. I think you had one of them when you chased the quarterback down on a little bootleg. Just take me through that play, what you saw, what you were expecting.
O'Donnell: It was obviously a huge play in the game. It was right before half, and we knew we were getting the ball back after halftime. We were up by six. We get a stop and we knew we were getting the ball back. Our defense was all fired up. It was kind of a broken play, the quarterback, it looked like some sort of a pass. When he started rolling out I saw him and kind of just buried myself in there.
What does that do for you guys going forward, knowing you have a win of that magnitude under your belts?
O'Donnell: It gives us a lot of motivation. It was fun. We celebrated it. We beat them, but now, come yesterday, Monday, it's a new week. We've got to get better. We're past Montini we've got to focus and we're just trying to move on now.
How are you guys feeling going into the game against Boylan?
O'Donnell: Everybody has to get better every day at practice. Everyone has to go hard. As long as everyone is doing their job, doing what they're supposed to be doing, working their butt off, we feel pretty good.