Hinsdale Central's big plays take out Conant
Big plays ended Conant's big season.
The Cougars, who won their first Mid-Suburban League title since 2003, allowed Hinsdale Central to score 3 long touchdowns as the Red Devils eliminated Conant 28-14 Saturday in the opening round of the Class 8A playoffs in Hinsdale.
Hinsdale Central (8-2) will travel to Warren (9-1) for its second round game. That date and time will be announced by the IHSA on Monday.
It was a disappointing end to the season for Conant (6-4) and second-year head coach Bryan Stortz.
"It didn't end the way our kids wanted it to end," Stortz said. "I think you have to look at a couple plays here and a couple plays there. We needed to play error-free football and we made a few mistakes."
Hinsdale Central used its huge offensive line to move the ball down the field in the first quarter. On fourth-and-2, Matthew Bobak broke a run to the outside and scampered 29 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Red Devils appeared to be in control when they moved the ball late in the first half into the Conant red zone. Hinsdale had a third-and-goal from the 2, but the Conant defense, led by Anthony Wachal, Malik Frederick, Fillippo DeFrenza and Joey Carrell, stiffened and turned Hinsdale away.
That play sparked the Conant offense, which had been mostly dormant to that point. The Cougars went 98 yards in 9 plays with Wachal catching a 7-yard slant in pass from Kevin Polaski for the touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. The duo combined for 3 plays for 56 yards on the drive.
It appeared the game would stay that at the half. But Hinsdale Central had other ideas.
On fourth down at its own 49, Braden Contreras slipped behind the Conant defense and hauled in a 51-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Rush with 5 seconds left to make it 14-7.
Conant had a chance to get back into the game early in the third quarter when Ronald Williams made a huge hit on a Hinsdale punt returner, forcing a fumble that Ruben Valdez recovered.
However the Cougars threw an interception on the very next play. They compounded matters when Bobak burst over the left side and raced 50 yards for a touchdown to put the Red Devils up 21-7.
Bobak, who would finish with 193 yards on 23 carries, stretched the lead for Hinsdale to 28-14. The senior scored his third touchdown of the day on a 6-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Conant added a late touchdown when Wachal, who would have 6 receptions for 119 yards, hauled in a 36-yarder from Polaski.
"I would not want to be on any other team but this team," Wachal said. "We have been through a lot and we changed the culture for this program and I know the juniors here will keep it going."
Polaski, who was 11-of-20 for 168 yards said he and his teammates are proud of what they accomplished this year.
It was a step in the right direction, but not where we wanted to be," Polaski said. "So the guys next year, they will be ready. Our conference championship was great, but you are never satisfied."
Stortz said the senior leadership was key to his team's success this season.
"I am so proud of this group," Stortz said. "They had a ton of grit, a ton of toughness and a lot of heart out here."
Bears honor Bellizzi: The Chicago Bears announced Friday that Jake Bellizzi of Maine West was named the Chicago Bears High School All-Star.
Bellizzi and the Maine West Warriors posted a 32-0 win at Deerfield on Oct. 19 to register their first outright Central Suburban League championship.; 2018 also marked the team's first eight-win season since the program's inaugural year in 1959.
Bellizzi, a senior, has rushed for over 1,400 yards this season.
The Warriors, who are the 12th seed, defeated Benet Academy 20-18 Friday night in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.