HUNTLEY – As Huntley football players bounced up and down at midfield, hoisting their helmets into the air and chanting rhythmically, bursts of booming colorful flashes lit up the night sky.
But as impressive as the postgame pyrotechnic display was, it served only as the grand finale of the offensive fireworks show the Red Raiders put on Friday night.
Huntley scored on four of its first five possessions, including on a 75-yard Blake Jacobs touchdown run and a 79-yard Brandon Altergott catch on a trick play that triggered a 34-7 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win over Prairie Ridge.
The victory snapped the Red Raiders' three-game losing streak that suddenly seemed to be a distant memory following Friday night's about-face.
"I think we're finally starting to get it rolling," said receiver Josh Esikiel, who had eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. "I think this is the new Huntley. We worked so hard over the summer – we put in so much work and we're starting to do what we're supposed to do.
"We're being Huntley. We're playing like we're supposed to play."
The Red Raiders (3-3, 1-2 FVC Valley) shed many of the self-imposed errors that had led to their recent stretch of misfortune. In its place, Huntley showcased the fast-paced, downhill style of football that coach John Hart envisioned when the season began.
Huntley rolled up 438 yards of total offense, building a commanding 28-0 lead by halftime, overwhelming Prairie Ridge (2-4, 1-3 Valley) with its high-octane first half performance.
"I think a lot of it came down to who started quick," Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. "They, unfortunately, got going and got some confidence and it kind of snowballed from there. They just had some big plays and we didn't make them. Plain and simple."
Prairie Ridge trailed 34-0 after Jacobs and Esikiel connected for the second time – from 28 yards out – giving Huntley more than enough to work with. The Wolves finally reached the end zone with 4:49 remaining in the fourth quarter on Danny Meikel's 13-yard touchdown run, but well after the game was out of hand.
For Huntley, which still likely must win out to make the playoffs, the win was the first step in what the Red Raiders believe will be a late-season surge.
"This is really the team we are," Hart said. "But we've got a lot of the year left and we're going to try and play as hard as we can until we're done.
"When we play like this, we've got the chance to be a really good team. We just have to it every week and next week (against McHenry), we have to come out and play just as hard because if we don't, we'll be in for another adventure."