Elk Grove's first win stuns Wheeling

By Jonathan Jones
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/29/2018 12:34 AM

The Grenadier faithful rushed the field as Elk Grove tallied its first win, 38-21, in a Homecoming Mid-Suburban League East battle against Wheeling Friday night.

Elk Grove sophomore halfback Ian Ridge found the perfect amount of space in the trenches as he sprinted to the Promised Land on three occasions (200 yards, 3 touchdowns).

"We came in knowing it was going to be a battle," Ridge said. "I stayed patient and knew when to come back. The O-line did their job 100 percent. We just came out and had fun."

After falling behind early 8-0, Elk Grove (1-5, 1-1) pulled a trick out of its sleeve. The Grenadiers ran a three-man hand off ultimately being given to backup quarterback sophomore Joey Gaskill. Gaskill scanned his offense and found junior receiver Shane Crimmins, who scampered for 75 yards to tie the game.

Elk Grove connected earlier on a play similar on its first possession, but the score was called off due to an illegal shift.

Wheeling and Elk Grove traded a few turnovers in the first half until Ridge broke for his first score from 3 yards out.

Many of the Grenadier third down plays were credited to the chemistry between junior quarterback Charles Janczack and senior receiver Vinny Faciano. Faciano prolonged drives with his yards after catch as he registered eight catches for 100 yards.

Wheeling (3-3, 1-1) wouldn't go down without a fight. Late in the second quarter, Wildcat quarterback Michael Best (2 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing) capped off an 84-yard drive with a 14-yard keeper to tie the game.

The Grenadiers pieced together one last drive prior to the half as junior Antonio Sandoval put a foot into a 28-yard field goal, nursing an 18-15 lead into halftime. Sandoval kicked two more field goals from 21 yards out.

"Our kids were confident and did a good job of investing this week," said Elk Grove coach Miles Osei. "Just because you put in the work, it doesn't guarantee a great game, but it sets you up for possibly a successful Friday."

Following Ridge's two back-to-back touchdowns, the Grenadiers about sealed the victory after Crimmins intercepted a high throw early in the fourth quarter.

"This week was our best week of practice coming in," Crimmins said. "We had a lot of confidence coming in. When the D-line applies the pressure, it gives the secondary a lot of opportunities."

Wheeling added a final touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but Elk Grove had stretched the lead too far for any type of comeback.

"Hats off to (the Grenadiers)," said Wheeling coach Brian Hauck. "They worked their tails off and earned it. We weren't prepared and that's my fault. We have to put in the same hard work and persistence that we committed ourselves to in the summer for next week."

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