This time, Barrington finished the job. But it wasn't easy.
The Broncos won their home opener, just barely, executing outstanding clock management mixed with power football to score a 17-10 home-opening win over an undermanned, undersized Elk Grove team that hardly played that way Friday.
Justin Dragosz scored both Barrington touchdowns, on second-half runs of 3 and 2 yards, the latter with 12 seconds left, in piling up a 26-carry, 149-yard evening. He compiled more than half of Barrington's 241 yards for the night.
"Dragosz did a fantastic job," said Barrington (1-1) coach Joe Sanchez, after the Broncos killed all but 12 seconds of the final 3:19 following stubborn Elk Grove's game-tying touchdown.
A crucial fourth-and-inches with 45 seconds left enabled Barrington to set up the winning score, when it was clear it was debating whether to kick a field goal or go for it.
"We were trying to kill as much time as possible," Sanchez said of the gamble that paid off, as Dragosz scored one snap after quarterback Mark Bennett leaned into the fourth-down play to maintain possession.
The whole thing was set by what looked like a heave-ho but was really a designed long pass from Bennett to Dylan Zyzda, who cradled it between two defenders before hitting the ground at the Elk Grove 12 after a 29-yard gain. It was one of two huge long-gainers he hauled in during the second half.
And he credited Bennett. "It was called in the huddle," as opposed to being a broken play. "Mark found a way to squeeze it in there. It was a great throw. I'm just glad my teammates had enough confidence in me to throw me the ball on that play."
Like his coach, he called this a huge win, coming off the previous week's overtime loss at Libertyville.
"Really big," Zyzda said. "We were calling it a must-win all week."
Despite the heroics, and a terrific game from a defense that bottled up Elk Grove's high-powered offense most of the game, the Broncos still needed a near-miracle to preserve the win. Do-everything two-way player Dejan Basara, who scored all of Elk Grove's points, unleashed a 50-yard Hail Mary to Fernando Lozano on the game's final play, which only concluded when Lozano was finally tackled inside the Barrington 10.
"He made a good catch," Zyzda, a two-way player himself, said of Lozano's play. "I can't give him enough credit. He gave us fits all night."
Lozano, Basara, Johnny Assimakopoulos, Jeff Miceli and Mike Bishoff gave Barrington's offense fits with their gritty defensive play, but they couldn't hold off that last possession.
"It's a lot of things," Elk Grove (1-1) coach Brian Doll said of the factors that added up to the loss. Mistakes (2 interceptions and a lost fumble), penalties (7 for 50 yards) and just plain wearing down in the heat against a deeper opponent all took its toll.
"It's disappointing, but I can't fault their effort. This is one of the closest teams I've ever coached."
And it may get "closer" if they can find a way to get Basara some rest.
Sanchez feels the same about his kids. "I'm just extremely proud of our heart. The kids really displayed their courage," especially after finishing the game with prospective all-state offensive lineman Dan Voltz and linebacker-running back Chase Murdock on the sideline with nagging injuries.