Crystal Lake South stays hot, knocks off McHenry

By Dave Hess
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/8/2021 11:24 PM

Spearheaded by senior quarterback Justin Kowalak, Crystal Lake South possesses one of the top passing attacks in the Fox Valley Conference.

But with junior Nathan Van Witzenburg pounding the ball, the Gators can run the ball efficiently.


Toting the pigskin 25 times and gaining 202 yards, Van Witzenburg scored 3 touchdowns to lead the Gators to a 33-13 win over McHenry in FVC action in Crystal Lake Friday night.

The Gators (4-3, 4-3) are one win away from being playoff eligible. McHenry drops to 1-6 overall and in conference.

Van Witzenburg, who was primarily used as a safety in the second half because of an injury to starter Colton Hess, did most of his damage offensively in the first half.

The hard-running junior running back carried the ball 21 times for 179 yards and scored 3 times on runs of 1, 2 and 4 yards during the first 24 minutes.

"The offensive line was incredible," said Van Witzenburg. "They were opening huge holes. Our passing game spreads things out and gives me more room to run."

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South coach Rob Fontana knows the value of Van Witzenburg.

"We needed Nathan to fill in for Colton in the second half and he did a great job," said the Gators coach. "Nathan runs so hard and he is so physical. He is like a coach on the field. He knows the game so well. Our passing game with Justin (Kowalak) certainly opens up the running game for Nathan."

Kowalak completed 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Shane Moran.

The senior carried the ball 10 times for 94 yards and reached pay dirt on an 18-yard touchdown.

Kowalak's only mistake of the game was an interception by McHenry safety Kyle Kaempf, who returned the ball 23 yards for a touchdown with 7:27 left in the first quarter.

"We didn't quit but they had the ball a lot more than we did," said McHenry coach Jon Niemic. "We certainly lost the time of possession battle. They have an offensive juggernaut with a great quarterback (Kowalak). They are a playoff quality team."

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