Lincoln-Way East routs St. Charles East
Lincoln-Way East did not require a near-miraculous victory in the final seconds in a Class 8A football playoff game against St. Charles East this time around.
Friday night in Frankfort, the Griffins, who escaped the Saints with a last-second victory in the second round last year en route to the state championship, were dominant on both sides of the ball in a 49-0 victory.
The second-seeded Griffins ended the No. 31 Saints' year at 5-5.
"At the end of the day they physically manhandled us," St. Charles East running back Justin Jett said. "You can only do so much when you're not moving the ball. That's as good a high school team as I have ever seen on a football field."
Jett had a 15-yard run on the Saints' second play from scrimmage.
But it would prove to be the only first down of the opening half for St. Charles East.
After having a pair of touchdowns called back -- including the opening kickoff -- on penalties, Lincoln-Way East had few issues in running its winning streak to 24 straight games.
St. Charles East dodged the Griffins' opening salvo when Nathan Hull snared an interception inside the Saints' 5-yard line.
"I cut on the ball and was able to come up with it," Hull said of the deflected interception.
The Griffins' junior star AJ Henning made sure the Griffins would not miss again.
Henning was the star of the Griffins' state-championship win over Loyola last year, and the junior did much the same to St. Charles East.
Alternating between wide receiver and running back, Henning opened the scoring with a 20-yard collaboration with quarterback Jack Baltz.
"All week we talked about not letting that happen again against (the Saints)," Henning said. "We didn't want that same feeling as last year."
"Obviously, no one (on our team) forgot what happened last year," Jett said.
The Griffins (10-0) scored four more times in the first half to take a seemingly insurmountable 35-0 lead at the intermission.
The Griffins' defense was equally impressive as the Saints could muster only 11 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
St. Charles East was clearly handicapped by losing starting quarterback BJ Crossen in Week 8.
Jacob Guzick attempted to direct the Saints' triple option, and Cody Mitchell was inserted into the quarterback slot on obvious passing downs.
But neither quarterback was able to complete a pass for the Saints.
Guzick gained the Saints' only two second-half first downs on keepers.
Lincoln-Way East needed a single offensive play after halftime -- a 60-yard pass -- to initiate a running clock.
"Our mentality is not to show up but to win games," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said of the Griffins. "They're deeper than they were last year."