Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/15/2016 12:15 AM

Wheeling calls on Best in victory

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Wheeling football coach Brent Pearlman calls TJ Best someone who doesn't get a lot of 'name' recognition but is the team's unsung hero.

Best got his named called plenty by public address announcer Ross Giusti on Friday night at George Gattas Memorial Stadium in Mt. Prospect.

Wheeling's senior wide receiver caught 15 passes from quarterback Jalen Dennis for a career-high 248 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Wildcats kept their playoff hopes alive with a 38-7 triumph over Prospect in the Mid-Suburban East contest.

"Jalen just gave me perfect reads the whole game," Best said. "I just go out and try to help my team."

Best helped the Wildcats (4-4, 3-1) get to within one win of having a shot at a playoff berth.

"Practice was nuts this week," said Dennis who threw for 319 yards, completing 21-of-23 passes. "We were so focused. Everything was coming down to these final two weeks. And we knew we had to take care of this one first."

Taking care of Dennis were linemen Connor Duncan, Robert Nehrke, Joe Knapik, Antonio Uriostique and Nate Dirkes.

In addition to 54- and 15-yard TD strikes to Best, Dennis also threw a 43-yard TD pass to senior Johnny Kappel, who caught 3 passes for 64 yards.

"Our main goal was to keep fighting these last two games," Kappel said.

"I think we've cleaned things up the last three weeks and we are playing more disciplined," Pearlman said. "This group has been coming on, and getting better and better. I think you saw that in the second half."

The Wildcats led 13-7 at half before pitching a 25-0 shutout after intermission.

They went ahead 16-7 midway through the third quarter on John Quintero's 28-yard field goal.

TD passes to Best and Kappel and a 3-yard TD run by Jason Shannon capped the visitor's scoring.

Dennis, Andrew Lara and Omar Atempa all recovered fumbles for the Wildcats' defense which also got a couple of big tackles for losses by Freddie McLeod.

The only touchdown Wheeling surrendered came early in the second quarter on Knights junior quarterback Nick Ergastolo's 1-yard sneak which capped a 64-yard, 13-play drive.

Dennis' fumble recovery came at Wheeling's 40 yard line. Dennis then hooked up with Best for a 6-yard pass, and delivered a 54-yard sideline TD pass to Best which made it 13-7 with 2:19 left in the first half.

"TJ did a great job getting open," Dennis said.

Prospect sophomore Michael Shafis was the game's top rusher with 77 yards.

"I thought defensively we were playing well but they made a couple of big plays over the top early in the game," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "You can't put the ball on the ground (fumbles) like we did and win a football game.

"The simple fact is that next week we have to finish the right way as a group. We have a lot of kids with pride and we will challenge them to finish the season the right way."

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