Stevenson fullback Nathan Kahn received an unusual birthday present on Friday.
Leading rusher Joe Cassata sat out most of the second half against New Trier because of muscle spasms, which meant a world of opportunity for the Patriots' other backs.
Kahn took advantage, toting the ball 17 times, appropriately enough, for 72 yards as Stevenson rolled past New Trier 21-0 in a Class 8A playoff game that wasn't really that close.
"Our philosophy is pass to score, run the ball to win and our offensive line did a great job," Kahn said.
"I knew I could step up if I had to. Cassata was out. I just did what I had to do."
Late in the game, Kahn ran up the middle on seven straight plays. He shouldn't have any trouble taking the hits, though. An appropriate theme song for the 6-foot junior would be "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull.
"A lot of time in the weight room," Kahn explained. "The O-line did a great job for me. All I had to do was take my steps, hit the guy and fall forward for 5 yards."
Stevenson (10-0), the only unbeaten team in the 8A playoffs, expects to have Cassata back next week when it takes on the winner of today's Warren-South Elgin contest.
"Cassata's going to be fine," Patriots coach Bill McNamara said. "He was having some muscle spasms. We weren't going to chance putting him back in the game."
Before heading to the sidelines, Cassata gained 100 yards on 13 carries. His 17-yard scamper gave Stevenson a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
On the Patriots' third drive of the game, sophomore Anthony Bozin (13 carries, 110 yards) sprinted down the right side for a 55-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 at halftime. Kahn boosted the lead to 21-0 with a 1-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter.
Stevenson turned the ball over twice inside New Trier's 20-yard line, missed a 40-yard field goal and finished the game at the Trevians' 12. The Patriots led in total yardage 387-122. New Trier (5-5) put together a 14-play drive that reached Stevenson's 23 in the second quarter, but a sack and another negative play led to a punt.
"Our defense played great today," McNamara said. "They made stops continually. They got the offense the ball."
On their final six drives of the game, the Trevians picked up just 3 first downs. Their last chance ended with an interception by Stevenson's Dominykas Bickus.
"We had some penalties at bad times," New Trier coach Dan Starkey said. "We had some sacks that hurt us. We didn't pick up the blitz real well. We've got a sophomore and three juniors and a senior on the offensive line. We've got a long way to go there. We had a couple good drives going that we needed to get some points."