By Mark Maxwell
This award is for closers only.
With less than two minutes remaining and a four-point deficit looming large, Rolling Meadows senior quarterback and first-year starter Bobby Sucheki calmly led his team on an 80-yard, game-winning scoring drive to defeat Mid-Suburban East opponent, the Hersey Huskies. With less than seven seconds remaining, Sucheki fired a back-shoulder touchdown pass to fellow Mustang Matt Campbell. The touchdown reception was Campbell’s second of the game.
In the previous possession, Sucheki lost grip of the football in an attempt to spike the ball and stop the clock. A rugby scrum ensued as players from both teams wrestled the ball away from each other, only to learn that the officials had ruled the ball dead as an incomplete pass. The play not only jeopardized Rolling Meadows’ possession of the football, but they almost lost their quarterback in the fray too.
“The ball was on the ground, and I dove for it and came in contact with a couple guys from Hersey and got dinged up in the head,” Sucheki said. “When I got checked out on the sideline, that kind of took my nerves down. I didn't get a chance to see the defensive drive. I just heard my name called for offense, and I just knew that what I had to do was a minute-and-forty-second drive to win.”
Trained to have a short memory, Sucheki checked back into the game and rallied his teammates to execute their most important two-minute drill of the season.
“We practice that way all the time. We move the ball in practice whenever we're doing offense,” coach Matt Mishler said. “I said to some guys after the game, 'It was just like any other Wednesday out there where we're practicing and just moving the ball down the field.' It's kind of what we do. I think the kids kind of just got into a groove out there.”
Practice is one thing; performing under pressure, late in a game that would shift the standings in the MSL East is entirely another ballgame. Sucheki’s late-game heroics leveled the playing field across the conference, bringing Hersey down to a three-way tie for first place with Rolling Meadows and Elk Grove Village. The Mustangs hold the tie-breaker, should all three teams close out the final week of regular-season play with a victory.
“It felt really good. It was definitely tough, knowing we only had a minute and 40 seconds left with no timeouts,” Sucheki said. “With the guys we have on the team, it boosts your confidence a little bit knowing you have those guys protecting you; you have those guys running the routes. It made it a little easier on me with the personnel I have on offense.
“Coach Mishler always talks about just having fun playing football,” he continued. “That was kind of running through my head the whole time. Just stay loose, because when you tense up, you don't really perform as well. Staying loose definitely helped me through that drive.”
Having only started one season at quarterback, college scouts can only look at one year of film on Sucheki. This game-winning drive will certainly enhance the body of work on his highlight reel.
“He does (want to play college football). He's certainly looking, and there are some schools talking to me about him,” Mishler told CSNChicago.com. “He's a gregarious kind of guy. Everybody likes to be around him. He makes me laugh all the time. People are kind of drawn to him in that respect. He’s a leader.”