Kick off was scheduled for 4 p.m., but Lake Forest was ready for football well before that time Saturday.
The main parking lost east of Varsity Field was completely full by 2:30 p.m, the home stands filled with fans not soon after. One driver pulling into the lot asked a security guard, "is there a football game going on?" His response was dripping with sarcasm, "that's what I hear."
With the exception of that driver, there didn't appear to be a single person in Lake Forest not aware the Scouts were playing a football game Saturday. From the "Blue-Out" and "Scout-Out" dress code to "Fear the Spear" written on business windows and signs all over town, Lake Forest's 6A semifinal game against Cary-Grove was clearly a community-wide event.
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And the subject of the cheering did not disappoint. While they did lose 42-21 to the likely 6A state champs, the 2012 Scouts played with the intensity and resolve fans have come to expect all season.
When they sprinted onto the field for pre-game warmups about 20 minutes before kickoff, the thunderous roar of the crowd ripped through the entire facility, a noise which signaled to the Scouts just how much their city was behind them.
"It was the coolest game I’ve ever played in. There’s no other way to describe it," senior running back Scott Powell said.
On Lake Forest's first drive of the game, Clifford found Geno Quaid for a 32-yard touchdown to give the Scouts a 7-0 lead. A thunder clap blasted through Varsity Field when the offensive unit ran off the field, fans thirsty for more.
There was a good reason.
Never in the school's history had the football team made it to a state championship game. This team had connected with the community in ways never before, making the ultimate destination--a berth in the title game--so desirous. A teacher's strike had robbed them of a home game (Lake Zurich on Sept. 14). A bad referee's call had cost them a victory against Stevenson. But whenever outside forces slowed the Scouts, they responded by speeding up, leaving things outside of their control in the review mirror, focusing their gaze strictly on what was directly in front of them.
"There were a lot of people saying it was a rebuilding year. We knew what we could do," senior wide receiver David Glynn said, who caught two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Andrew Clifford (17-of-31, 222 yards). "No one besides the kids on this team thought we would make it this far. We believed and believed in each other."
Saturday, all that was between them and history was the Cary-Grove Trojans. It proved to be one hurdle the Scouts could not climb.
After the Clifford-to-Quaid touchdown, the Trojans outscored the Scouts 42-14. Cary-Grove's triple option attack nothing like Lake Forest had seen all season. The score was 35-21 late in the third quarter after another Clifford-to-Glynn touchdown (25 yards) gave the crowd new life. But Cary-Grove answered right back with another touchdown drive, ending any hope of a Lake Forest rally.
When the final seconds ran off on the 42-21 loss and the Scouts had shaken hands with their opponent, they walked with heavy hearts towards the home stands. Thousands had stayed to see their boys off. With some choking back tears, players recited the Lake Forest fight song one more time in front of their fans, a school tradition. It was a final act of mutual appreciation for a season not soon to be forgotten.
"What a great, great tribute our community gave our players today. It showed why this is such a special place to be," coach Chuck Spanoli said. "Our kids our vary thankful and proud of it. I told them they can feel bad because their season is over but they shouldn’t feel bad about this game. Not at all."
Added Powell: "We played our hearts out. It really sucks right now. We came out fighting and that's the way we finished."
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