FLOSSMOOR | Vashon Nutt didn't know much about the single-wing offense, but the Homewood-Flossmoor senior running back knows enough not to question Vikings coach Craig Buzea.
"Coach Buzz is a mastermind, he's a genius," Nutt said.
So when Buzea put in a 100-year-old offense this season, mostly to flummox H-F's SouthWest Suburban Blue Achilles heel Lincoln-Way East, the Vikings embraced it. It paid off, as No. 3 H-F edged the Griffins 24-21 in a homecoming battle of unbeatens Friday in front of 3,500-plus fans in Flossmoor.
"This is what we set out for, this is the team you've got to beat to win the conference, this is the team to beat in the South Suburbs, and we did it," Buzea said.
H-F (5-0, 3-0) hadn't beaten the Griffins (4-1, 2-1) since 2003, its only win in 10 previous tries against East. This win mostly came courtesy of a few big plays, which mostly came courtesy of the single-wing, which saw four different Vikings take direct snaps during the game.
"Pop Warner put it in in 1908," Buzea said. "I spent some time this offseason with a guy who won a state championship with it in Florida and decided to use it."
After a torrid first half ended with the Vikings leading 17-14, Nutt made the play that gave the Vikings their last touchdown and the breathing room they'd need to hang on for the win.
East went three-and-out to open the third quarter. Two snaps after the Griffins punted, Nutt took a snap, spun around as if to hand the ball off, then darted up the left sideline 66 yards for a score. He'd finish the day with a game-high 120 yards rushing on 11 carries, and was 3-of-3 passing for 41 yards.
H-F also got 49 and 48 yards rushing, respectively, from twins Devonte and Deante Harley-Hampton, and Isaac Cutrara threw for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
East was led by Alex Kraft's 51 yards on the ground, while Jordan Wirtz completed 13-of-20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown, though he also threw two interceptions. The last, taken by the Vikings' William Daniels, clinched the win with a shade over two minutes to play.
Early, it appeared as if H-F's mistakes might be the difference-makers.
With H-F leading 7-0 in the second quarter, a Griffins drive stalled at the H-F 16 and East set up for a field goal. But, when the Vikings failed to cover Colin O'Connell, holder Brett Fuessel hurriedly called for the snap and threw a touchdown pass to O'Connell.
On East's next possession, the Vikings defense again held, but they had 12 men on the field for the Griffins' punt. East kept the ball and two snaps later Wirtz hit Paul Gossage for a 36-yard touchdown.
H-F bounced back, driving 82 yards in eight plays on its next possession, the drive culminating with a 20-yard Cutrara-to-James Sheehan pass.
Two snaps after the ensuing kickoff, H-F's Reginald Howell picked off a Wirtz pass, returning it 25 yards to the East 24, leading to a 33-yard Morgan Bohlman field goal and a 17-14 H-F lead with 18 seconds left in the half.
The Vikings moved easily down the field on their first possession to score, covering 60 yards in six snaps after the opening snap. Cutrara hit Deante Harley-Hampton for a 35-yard scoring play featuring a nifty cutback by the receiver.