Minutes before the start of Highland Park High Schoolâ€™s home football game against Maine East on Oct. 14, the PA announcer blared, â€śLadies and gentlemen, what do you think of the pink?â€ť
Not exactly Michael Bufferâ€™s arena-shaking, pre-boxing bout outburst, â€śLetâ€™s get ready to rummmmmmble!â€ť
But it was â€śBreast Cancer Awareness Nightâ€ť, and HPâ€™s Giants wore striking pink jerseys, HP coach Joe Horeniâ€™s idea.
â€śThey looked sharp,â€ť Horeni said of the threads.
They played a sharp brand of football on Senior Night, scoring 42 unanswered points en route to a 55-12 rout of the visitors from Park Ridge. The win clinched a playoff berth. The win left Highland Park (6-2, 3-1 in the Central Suburban League North) in a three-tie for first place in the division, with one week remaining in the regular season.
Vernon Hills High School edged Glenbrook North 26-25 on Oct. 14. Those schools are also 3-1 in the CSL North.
HP hosts Vernon Hills (6-2), while Glenbrook North (7-1) visits Maine West (4-4, 2-2) on Oct. 21.
â€śWeâ€™ll get to play for something,â€ť Horeni said, alluding to a division title and a likely home playoff opener.
Maine East opened the game against HP with an onside kick and recovered it on the 50-yard line. The Blue Demons (1-7, 0-4) scored on a 10-yard run but did not score again until they were trailing 42-6 near the end of the third quarter.
HP, which led 35-6 at the half, tallied its first six touchdowns in a variety ways: recovery of its own fumble on a run; two touchdown passes; a TD return following a Maine East fumble; and two TD runs.
Giants sophomore running back/linebacker Giancarlo Volpentesta, busy and productive, caught one of the TD passes (a 17-yarder) from junior quarterback John Sakos, raced 43 yards for another score (fumble return) and secured a Highland Park onside kick that set up a 17-yard TD run from junior Jeremy Allen.
Sakos (4-of-11, 86 yards, two TDs) and senior tight end Ben Fishman connected for a 30-yard score at 6:55 of the second quarter. Giants senior running back D.J. Penick (11 rushes, 133 yards, two TDs) scooped up teammate David Adelsteinâ€™s fumble in the first quarter and sprinted 35 yards to complete a scoring sequence that had begun right at midfield. Penick added a one-year TD burst, capping the hostsâ€™ 42-0 spree.
HP also received a 27-yard TD run from junior D.J. Westbrook and an eight-yard rushing TD from senior Aaron Jaffe, each of the scores coming in the final 1:30 of the third quarter.