Hoffman Estates savors historic homefield victory
Hoffman Estates had a game for the ages Saturday night in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Hawks, who had not won a playoff game since 1993 and hadn't won a home playoff game since 1988, took care of both those droughts and played their best of the game this season in dismantling visiting De La Salle 34-0.
Hoffman Estates (8-2), which is seeded No. 7 in the Northern bracket of the 6A playoffs, will play at 15th-seeded Lake Forest next weekend after the Scouts upset Riverside-Brookfield on Friday.
Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said the foes his Hawks face this year have helped with postseason prep.
"The schedule we play with the MSL West prepares us for this," said Heyse, whose team has the smallest enrollment in the West. "Then we run around and make plays. We were scared of their speed and their size. But we see it every week. That is what we told the kids. We saw two of the 8A powers. It certainly prepare us."
Despite having a higher seed than 10th-seeded De La Salle (6-4), many observers didn't give the Hawks much of chance in this one -- especially with Hoffman's lack of playoff success. But don't tell that to Heyse and the Hawks.
"We should wake up some people now," Heyse said. "We think we can be very dangerous."
De La Salle found Hoffman more than dangerous.
Led by their offensive arsenal of quarterback Austin Coalson, wide receivers Jaylan Alexander and Jayvon Blissett and running back Jaylin Johnson, De La Salle had difficulty slowing the high-flying Hawks.
De La Salle had even more trouble when it had the ball. The Hoffman Estates defense led by Alexander, Shawn Brown, Femi Oginni and Jimmy Burke showered they Meteors with 7 sacks and limited them to just 129 yards.
"We came to play," said Oginni, who had 2 of those sacks. "Our coaches told us what we had to do, and we just did it."
Hoffman got off to a great start by jumping to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
Alexander, who moved at times took snaps in the Wildcat formation, finished with 110 yards on 6 carries and scored on a 11-yard run. Blissett caught the first of his two touchdown passes on a 28-yard strike from Coalson, and the Hawks were off and running.
Coalson, who missed Blissett just before the end of the half on a deep post pattern, vowed at halftime to deliver on that same play. And the senior quarterback did just that.
Coalson, who finished 8-of-20 for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns, dropped a perfect pass down the middle to Blissett. The speedy wide receiver then made a sweet move on a Meteors defender and took the ball for 78 yards to make it 19-0 just under two minutes into the second half.
"All week we knew that they would come out in a cover zero defense," said Blissett, who finished with 140 receiving yards. "I like to consider myself a fast guy. Once I got open, it was just green grass and my quarterback threw me a good ball and the rest was history."
Johnson scored on a 2-yard run and Coalson threw a perfect fade pass to Alexander for a 17-yard touchdown to break up the Meteors.
"We are just having fun with this," Coalson said. "We work Monday through Thursday and then Friday or Saturday, whichever day we have a game on, it is all business. We have come to the realization that this could be our last game or last play. We aren't ready to end this."
Burks credited the secondary of Anijel Jones, Cameron Kindred, Clevontae Jackson and Trevon Hall for their coverage downfield, which enabled the defense to get to the De La Salle quarterback.
"We have the best secondary in the state," Burks said. "They shut down their receivers and gave us time to get to their quarterback."
Alexander said that the experience of losing their opening playoff game last year has been a motivator for this season.
"It is great to see all the hard work paying off," Alexander said. "Last year when we were in the playoffs, we didn't have the experience that we wanted. We just want to come out here and play for each other -- play for us."