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Cameron Smith

Undefeated Illinois team has yet to give up a point

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

You think your team's defense is stingy? Maybe it is, but it's no Vernon Hills (Ill.) High School defense. The Cougars are undefeated (6-0), and they haven't even been challenged yet, largely because they have yet to yield a single point.

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That's right, according to the Chicago Sun-Times and Arlington Daily Herald, Vernon Hills -- yes, the same school that uses the Van Halen logo on its helmets -- hasn't given up a point. Not a touchdown or field goal. Not even a safety. The Cougars are more than half way to an unprecedented shutout season, and they keep finding new ways to keep opponents off the board.

In last Saturday's 48-0 rout of Wauconda, Vernon Hills needed a blocked field goal (which it returned for a touchdown), an interception and a handful of big stops after Wauconda first downs to keep the Bulldogs from scoring. At one point Wauconda got as close as the Vernon Hills 26-yard line, but that was as close as it could get ... just as that's been as close as nearly any other team has been able to get.

"The most impressive thing is how we keep at it," Notre Dame-recruit DaVaris Daniels, pictured above, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We're not used to giving up big yardage. But when teams get first downs, we bounce back quick. And once we get a stop, it's just one after another."

The biggest threat to the Vernon Hills defense thus far has been Antioch, which was undefeated before being blanked, 34-0, by Vernon Hills on Sep. 24. With less than a minute remaining in that game, Antioch drove the ball all the way to the Vernon Hills 1-yard line, where it faced second-and-goal. Amazingly, Vernon Hills stiffened again, shutting down Antioch's runners on three consecutive downs to ensure a fifth shutout of the season.

The most impressive part of those stops? They were made by Vernon Hills' second defensive unit.

"We just have a lot of intensity out there on defense," Vernon Hills MJ Crowley told the Arlington Daily Herald after the Antioch victory. "We don't want anyone to beat us on any play. We've got a lot of heart on 'D.' We're just not going to let anyone get into the end zone. I thought (the coaches) might put our starters back in, but they let us stay in and we did what we needed to do. It was fun."

With six shutouts down, Vernon Hills' season statistics are starting to look incredibly lopsided. The Cougars have outscored their foes 290-0, an average per-game score of just more than 48-0. The team's six victories also guaranteed Vernon Hills another state playoff berth with three regular-season games still to play.

Of those three games, two are against teams that are .500 or better. The toughest test may come this Friday at Grant (Ill.) High in Fox Lake. The Bulldogs are 3-3, but have scored 69 points in their past two games, both victories at home.

That being said, Grant fell to Antioch earlier this season, and we already know how Antioch fared against Vernon Hills.

"We got our butts kicked," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel told the Arlington Daily Herald. "They're just really, really good. This is probably the worst defeat we've had since I've been here [four years]."

An entire regular-season shutout may still be a long way off, but given what Vernon Hills has already accomplished, it would be foolish to say it won't happen.

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