Vernon Hills took the 25-minute bus ride to Wauconda on Saturday, and then proceeded to ride The Bus to another win on a chilly Homecoming Saturday.
"The Bus" is the new nickname for Cougars senior running back Brian Palmer. It was given to the stout 5-foot-9 Palmer due to his striking resemblance to former NFL star Jerome Bettis. Palmer also earned the title due in large part to his bus-like running style.
The Bus rambled over, around and through the Bulldogs, and he did it in all three aspects of the game - offense, defense and special teams.
"I got the nickname from coach (Tony) Monken," Palmer said. "He gave it to me because of my running style and how much I run like a bus."
Palmer's 3 touchdowns, 5 solo tackles and a blocked field goal helped keep the Cougars perfect in both the win column and the points-allowed column. The 48-0 trouncing of Wauconda earned Vernon Hills (6-0, 4-0) another trip to the state playoffs and continued the scoreless streak to an incredible six games. The Cougars have outscored its six opponents this fall 290-0.
"When we moved him up last year it was because he provided us a different type of runner - a different element," Monken said of Palmer. "He just gives teams another thing to think about. When teams have focused on DaVaris (Daniels) or Evan (Spencer), Palmer or (Marcus) Bradford have stepped up."
All three of Palmer's scores came in the first half, helping Vernon Hills pull out to a 41-0 cushion. But it wasn't just Palmer.
Daniels, who committed to Notre Dame midweek, contributed a 32-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars up 20-0, and a 68-yard return of a field goal blocked by Palmer accounted for the final tally.
Spencer, an Ohio State-bound senior, intercepted a Brian Kent pass and returned it 42 yards for the Cougars' final score of the first half.
"That's probably the best North Suburban Prairie Division team I have seen in the nine years I have been here," said Wauconda coach Dave Mills. "We tried to concentrate on what we could do, but unfortunately when they get up on you 20-0, 27-0 there isn't a whole lot you can do."
Wauconda (1-5, 0-3) saw its dreams of making the 2010 playoffs dashed by a Vernon Hills' dynamic defense. Playing with a noticeable limp and a heavily wrapped left leg, Kent was only able to help the Bulldogs muster up 118 yards in offense.
"We just tried to play our game and do our best, and Vernon Hills was just a better team than us," Kent said.