Cary-Grove, Batavia carrying on rich traditions
The Cary-Grove football team continued doing Cary-Grove things in its Class 6A first-round victory over Rockford East.
In other words, a continuation of domination.
One name that did not flash neon lights on the scoresheet but was equally critical to the top-seeded Trojans' success was linebacker/kicker Toby Splitt, who posted 5 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception, while booming four of his 6 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
The Trojans (10-0) ran for 275 yards on the ground on 40 carries. Nick Hissong had 13 carries for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Jameson Sheehan ran for 47 yards and also scored 2 touchdowns. Sheehan completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Drew Magel.
Defensively, Zack Petko had 10 tackles, while Connor Anderson added 6 tackles. Ryan Gustaffson had 4 tackles with a forced fumble and recovery, while Colin Desmet had 4 tackles as well, along with a fumble recovery.
Cary-Grove heads to former Fox Valley Conference tenant Grayslake Central in the second round Friday. In the last 10 seasons that the state playoffs were held (in other words, not counting last year), Cary-Grove has advanced past the second round in 7 of those 10 postseason appearances (second-round losses in 2017, 2012 and 2010).
The Trojans have scored 469 points in 10 contests this season.
Geneva went down to Collinsville and recorded a 28-21 Class 7A first-round win thanks, in part, to the play of seniors Marco Dileo and Mac Happold.
Dileo caught 1 pass for 32 yards, but that doesn't tell the whole story. "Marco was dominant blocking at tight end and opened holes for our backs all game," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said.
Happold, a linebacker, helped limit Collinsville to 13 total plays in the second half. "Mac was in every play in the second half," Thorgesen noted. Happold finished with 9.5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
Quarterback Alex Porter helped the Vikings with 10 completions for 141 yards and 2 scores. He threw touchdown passes to Tyler Costello and Nate Stempkowski. Tyler Tuisl had 4 catches for 47 yards. Stempkowski also had a rushing touchdown.
Geneva (6-4) hosts Chicago St. Rita (8-2) in the second round Friday.
Ground and pound:
South Elgin, the No. 2 seed in the 32-team Class 8A field, did not complete a pass in its 24-13 first-round win over Edwardsville.
"Our unsung heroes are the entire starting offensive line, which allowed us to rush for 245 yards in the mud," Storm coach Dragan Teonic said. "We didn't complete a pass, so we had to dominate the line of scrimmage and were able to do so because of these guys."
Teonic lauded the in-the-trenches efforts of Joey Viverito (tight end), John Skwirblies (tackle), Nathan Dinse (guard), Dominic Cianciarulo (center), Hernan Cortez (guard) and Joey Taluc (tackle).
Anthony Marshall led the rushing attack with 20 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. South Elgin ran the ball 49 times.
Omari Larson had 2 sacks on defense.
Teonic noted South Elgin also benefited from fine special teams play. Kicker Kai Paz hit a key field goal and also had 3 touchbacks (averaged 56.6 yards per kickoff and had four inside the 25). Teonic liked Jacob Meyer's coverage on kickoffs, plus Viverito and Jordan Jones on punt, pinning Edwardsville inside the 5-yard line.
"Our special teams played well," he said.
South Elgin (10-0) heads to Chicago Marist (7-3) Saturday afternoon.
Batavia senior standout AJ Sanders usually lights up the stat sheets with obvious numbers, but coach Dennis Piron saw way more than that in the team's first-round win over Lake Zurich.
"AJ did a lot of little things, play fake, block, run, catch, punt return, cover punts, provide energy to others," Piron explained. "An overall great game by a great person and player."
Batavia ran for 275 yards against Lake Zurich with senior Josh Dornink registering 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Junior linebacker Michael Jansey had 10 tackles for a defense that surrendered only 5 first downs, 25 rushing yards and allowed 87 total yards of offense in another stifling performance.
Batavia, the No. 1 seed in Class 7A, heads to Chicago Mt. Carmel Friday at 7 p.m. to take on the No. 17-seed Caravan in a battle of programs that know a thing or two about postseason high school football.
Leaving little doubt:
Marmion Academy quickly established its dominance in a 53-8 win over Chicago Comer Prep in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Cadets scored seven unanswered touchdowns and took a 47-8 halftime lead.
Seven different Marmion players scored a touchdown with Jacob Bottarini leading the way. He started the game with a 4-yard touchdown run and then put Marmion up 13-0 after a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Marmion only ran two more plays than Comer (44-42), but it's what the Cadets did with those plays that made the difference. Marmion held a 284-98 total offense advantage. Marmion's defense was equally up to snuff with 6 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 3 interceptions. In addition to Bottarini, Alex Valenzuela and Tommy Canavan each had a pick.
Marmion (7-3) hosts Nazareth Academy (6-4) in a 5A second-round game Saturday. Of note in the top half of the Class 5A bracket, the No. 13, No. 10, No. 14 and No. 11 seeds all still are alive out of the 16-team field. Seeds 3, 4, 6 and 7 in the top half were all vanquished in the opening round.
A good decade:
Since H.D. Jacobs High School opened in 1970s, the Algonquin-based Golden Eagles had a heck of a time making the state football playoffs until 2010 hit.
Prior to 2010, the Golden Eagles had 5 playoff appearances, four coming after a drought between 1979 and 1998.
However, since 2010 Jacobs has played bonus football eight times (including the 2016 run to the 7A quarterfinals as a 5-4 team) and is back in business after a two-season hiatus. The Golden Eagles, the No. 19 seed in Class 7A, host No. 3 seed Normal Community High Friday in a second-round matchup.