Defense, Havens lead Huntley to blowout win
Yes, Huntley racked up 48 points led by 6 touchdowns from Ryder Havens.
But the Red Raiders defense certainly did its part as seventh-seeded Huntley dismantled 26th-seeded Chicago Taft 48-6 in first round action of the Class 8A playoffs in Huntley Saturday afternoon.
The Red Raiders (9-1), winners of 8 straight, will travel to 23rd-seeded Marist (6-4), a 49-7 winner over Glenbard East.
The tenacious defense held the undermanned Eagles (5-4) to 1 yard rushing and only 1 rushing first down.
"The coaches had a great game plan for us and we set the tone early with some hard hits," said Huntley senior linebacker Rukkus Hunkins. "We knew Taft had some athletes and we knew where they lined up on every play. It was a great way to start the playoffs especially since we lost in the first round last season. We remember that heartbreak so well."
The Red Raiders forced 2 turnovers. Ed Wall recovered a fumble while Mitchell Murray picked off a pass.
"We knew what our responsibilities were and we were well prepared for the game," said Murray. "Our defense came out aggressive, hitting hard wanting to make a statement. We played hard-nosed football. I was in the right place for the interception. Our line had pressure on the quarterback giving us a chance to plays."
Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak praised his defense.
"Our defensive players take a lot of pride in their play," said Zimolzak. "They do a great job of getting their hats on the ball. We were very aggressive and got some turnovers."
The senior-laden offensive line anchored by tackles Brandon Klemenz and Trevor Masten, guards Colin Fitt and Matt Kann along with center Ed Nesheiwat opened huge holes for Havens who rushed for 205 yards on 18 carries and reached pay dirt from 47, 25, 33, 43, 2 and 9 yards.
"These seniors are awesome," said the Huntley junior running back. "I get through the line and I haven't been touched yet. This is the best game of my career and I owe it all to my offensive line."
Junior quarterback Bruno Bosman, playing in a little over 3 quarters, completed 8 of 10 passes for 97 yards including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Joey Cauldren, who grabbed 5 passes for 71 yards.
"We played winning playoff football today," said Zimolzak. "We were very effective on both sides of the ball. The offensive line was itching to establish themselves today and dominate and they did. We are playing together as a team. Marist is a tremendous team on offense and defense. We will have to play well on the road to win."