Hoffman Estates runs past Elk Grove
Four plays into Hoffman Estates' 40-16 victory over Elk Grove on Friday, senior quarterback JoJo Lovelace introduced himself to the 2019 high school football scene with a perfectly placed 50-yard touchdown pass to Jashawn Johnson.
But it was a meticulous, well-executed 16-play, 80-yard drive near the end of the first half that helped coach Tim Heyse's squad finally gain the upper hand on the Grenadiers.
Clinging to a 14-13 lead after a back-and-forth first quarter, Hoffman Estates marched down the field on the strength of a combined 14 runs by Max Lock and Mekhi Williams. Lock, a bruising 6-foot, 210-pound senior, closed out the seven-minute, 14-second drive with a 1-yard dive to put his team up 20-13.
Elk Grove managed a field goal to close out the half, but Hoffman Estates scored 20 fourth-quarter points to post a season-opening victory.
"They came out swinging," said Lock, who finished with 110 yards on 23 carries. "Our coaches just told us that we had to fight back. It was just a mental test tonight. …
"I'm proud of my team -- proud of all of the young guys on my team. They stepped up to the plate and showed they were ready to play varsity football."
Williams, a 5-9, 185-pound junior, ran for 154 yards on 23 attempts and gave Hoffman Estates a 26-16 lead on a 2-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. It came one play after a critical pass interference call on Elk Grove on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Elk Grove tailback Ian Ridge had 7 carries for 106 yards in the first half, including a 45-yard TD run and a 47-yard scamper in the second quarter. He had just 4 carries in the second half, however, as Hoffman Estates controlled the clock with their punishing two-headed rushing attack.
"We have some special kids here," said Elk Grove coach Miles Osei. "It's a matter of having everyone on the same page and believing. I think we're heading in the right direction. We just need to get some corrections on film and go from there."
Lovelace, who finished 11-for-21 for 216 yards, also threw a 70-yard touchdown to Jonah Walton in the first quarter. His third TD pass was a 17-yarder to Johnson, and it gave the Hawk a 33-16 lead.
Johnson, a sophomore who was slowly worked into the offensive game plan last season, then put an exclamation mark on the victory by returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown.
"He's big time," Heyse said. "He is 150 (pounds), but he's strong as heck. Weight-room numbers are off the charts for a kid that size and for a sophomore."
Said Johnson, who caught 7 balls for 98 yards: "I was expecting to come out and put my foot on the gas and not let up. This season I'm expecting us to have a good playoff run."