A lot of negatives was a positive sign for the Huntley defense on Friday night.
McHenry had 13 plays stopped behind the line of scrimmage and the visiting Red Raiders' first-team defense recovered 2 fumbles and allowed only 99 yards through nearly three quarters in a 42-14 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory at McCracken Field.
"If we play at this level we can keep doing this," said Huntley senior defensive lineman Marcus Wright, who had a tackle for a loss. "If we play on an even higher level we can dominate the whole game."
Huntley (4-3, 2-2) may need that higher level to continue its drive to reach the postseason for the second straight year. Next week it faces FVC Valley leader Jacobs and standout quarterback Bret Mooney.
And Huntley coach John Hart definitely thinks it's possible even though Wright, Zachary Herbert, Brandon Dranka and Jeremy Behnke helped control the line of scrimmage. McHenry (2-5, 0-4) managed just 45 yards rushing on 31 attempts.
"The defensive line played pretty good," Hart said after Huntley's second straight win, "but I thought they could have played better."
Hart liked the play of his linebackers as Jordan Kabb and Chase Burkart had sacks. Sophomore cornerback Tim Ryan broke up 4 passes.
"If somebody wants to go after Timmy Ryan, we'll take our chances," Hart said. "I think he's as good as I've ever seen a sophomore play corner."
A couple of negatives also helped Huntley jump to a 14-0 lead.
McHenry accepted an illegal formation penalty after it returned a punt to its 30 but didn't field the subsequent kick from Blake Jacobs that bounced 57 yards to the 9. Herbert's sack led to a three-and-out and Jacobs (6-for-15, 140 yards) hit MacKian Stephens down the middle for a 38-yard touchdown.
Jacobs didn't have to wait long to rebound from an interception as McHenry gave the ball right back at its 31 on a fumble. Mitchell Kawell (18 carries, 127 yards) scored from a yard for the first of his 3 touchdowns.
"The defense did a really good job and forced a lot of turnovers and we took advantage of the turnovers and scored," Jacobs said. "If we get the ball we're going to score every single time."
A busted coverage saw McHenry junior Mike Briscoe (9-for-19, 133 yards) hit Mike Borst for a 35-yard score to cut Huntley's lead to 14-6. Jacobs answered with touchdown passes of 26 yards to Brandon Altergott and 21 yards to Kyle Kesul for 28-6 lead 4:48 before halftime.
Kawell's runs of 2 and 53 yards made it 42-6 with 2:33 left in the third as Huntley had 368 total yards behind Justus Wood, Luke Scarbro, Zachary Johnson, Darren Erath and Dominic Swanson.
"We came out hungry again and we want to win all of our games from here on out," Jacobs said.
"We're getting a lot closer and I love how hard we're playing," Hart said. "We're still making little bitty mistakes we shouldn't be making this time of year but we're playing hard."