Kaneland rolls, Cary-Grove up next

By Eric Bridges
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/27/2018 10:28 PM

The Kaneland Knights struck furiously and frequently en route to a 63-6 Class 6A playoff victory over Von Steuben on Saturday night in Maple Park.

The eighth-seeded Knights will play top-seeded Cary Grove next Saturday.

Knights quarterback Joe Smith threw only seven passes, but four of them were for touchdowns of at least 30 yards.

"We practiced it (throwing deep passes) all week and really worked on our timing," Smith said. "The line played great and gave me a lot of time and the receivers got open as well. Jon (Alstott) is such a threat whenever he touches the ball that he's always going to get yards, so having him in the backfield allows us a chance to pass a little more."

Colton Doll and Max Gagne were on the receiving end twice each of Smith's deep passes, and Jonathan Alstott added a score as well that built a lead that Kaneland would never relinquish.

Despite the score, the game started eerily for the host Knights. After advancing on their first drive to the Panthers' 15-yard line, a botched exchange resulted in a fumble that was recovered by the Panthers. The Knights defense forced the Panthers to punt only to have the punt fumbled as well and the Panthers reclaimed possession. Fortunately for Kaneland (7-3), its defense was up to the challenge and forced another Panthers punt.

Coach Pat Ryan was happy with the speed and tenacity that his defense displayed throughout the game.

"When we play fast and physical and get 11 hats to the football, we're really good," Ryan said. "I think that's our brand of football -- fast and physical."

After the game, Ryan was quick to remind his team who their next opponent is and how well they will have to play next week.

"They're (Cary Grove) a really good team, they're 10-0," Ryan said. "I think our schedule has prepared us to play playoff football. Seven of the nine teams we played in the regular season made the playoffs. So every week was sort of a playoff atmosphere. We feel pretty good coming into the playoffs, and tonight I thought we did a nice job in all three phases. We just have to come ready to play (next week)."

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