CHICAGO HEIGHTS | They say the biggest improvement sometimes comes from Week 1 to Week 2.
That was the case with the Marian Catholic football team on Friday night.
After losing 35-7 to Homewood-Flossmoor in Week 1, the Spartans played the Class 6A No. 1 and Times No. 2 Crete-Monee Warriors pretty tough.
They lost 30-7, but it was 0-0 at halftime with the Spartans blowing a few chances.
"We did play well for two quarters and we never gave up," Marian coach Dave Mattio said. "Obviously, we are missing at a few positions and we just don't have the depth to fill in when we need to. But overall, I liked that we played hard."
Marian had bad snaps and a fumble that led to Crete's first score as Nyles Morgan scooped up the loose ball and went 75 yards for the game's first score with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Warriors made it 14-0 on another big play as LaQuon Treadwell took a Marcus Terrell pass 41 yards for a score.
Marian could have given up, but Tim Mason scooped up a fumble and went 23 yards for a score with 11:40 left in the game.
"That was big for them," Crete coach Jerry Verde said. "It was 14-0, a close game and I thought that might be all the scoring -- and they score on a turnover.
"Dave's kids really fought hard and played us tough."
It was Verde's first win over his former high school coach and the first time a Verde-led Crete team beat a private school.
Part of the reason was Treadwell, who also had two big interceptions in what was a sloppy game for both sides. Marian turned the ball over six times; Crete three times.
Both can build off this game.
Marian, which had its quarterback Patrick Schmidt go down after a hit to the ribs, has to hold onto the ball and finish off on defense. A few things slipped up which led to Crete keeping the ball. Marian also was knocking on the door a few times, but a bad snap here and a fumble there killed potential scoring drives.
As long as the fight is in the Spartans, they may surprise a few people. Next week they travel to Mundelein to play powerful Carmel Catholic. They had better be on their game.
Crete-Monee will face Moline and will have to play better than it did in the first half. The Warriors had 150 yards in penalties, including several unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
The Warriors stepped it up when they needed to, but they also know they cannot do this every week.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.