Laughter may have been some of the best pregame medicine for Elk Grove sophomore quarterback Adam O'Malley.
Especially since some of O'Malley's teammates could sense his tension on the bus ride to his first varsity start at Buffalo Grove.
The mood had definitely changed by the time the ride was over Friday. It was definitely something senior Stefan Skoneczka could laugh about after Elk Grove's gritty 17-10 comeback in its Mid-Suburban East opener.
"Before we got on the bus he was freaking out a little bit," Skoneczka said. "We're all really close friends and he knew we had his back no matter what.
"We told a few jokes and stories and once we got off the bus he said he wasn't nervous anymore. We said, 'That's what we want.'"
What the Grenadiers got from O'Malley in relief of injured senior Dejan Basara was a strong closing effort that put them a victory away from a third straight playoff berth.
He capped a 77-yard drive before the end of the first half with a 1-yard touchdown run.
"That really settled down our quarterback and our offense," said Elk Grove two-way lineman Greg Johnsen. "We knew he could do it."
In the fourth quarter, O'Malley hit Jeff Miceli with third-and-14 passes for a 17-yard go-ahead touchdown for 46 yards to set up Miceli's insurance field goal. O'Malley finished 7-for-14 for 98 yards.
"I'm really happy because it's so tough for a sophomore to walk in and play," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "He was pretty composed and he's been having a huge sophomore year, so I wasn't too worried about it.
"Watching practice we said he would probably be our guy. He's got a little bit of a 'What have I got to lose' attitude.'"