Huntley's defense, special teams save the day

By Sam Natrop
Shaw Media
Posted9/4/2021 1:00 AM

On a night when Huntley's offense was missing in action, the defense and special teams stepped to the forefront and saved the night for the Red Raiders.

Sparked by two huge plays from Nicholas Martino -- a blocked punt in the second quarter and a pick-six in the fourth -- the Raiders (1-1, 1-1) bounced back from their Week 1 loss in holding off McHenry, 16-13, in a Fox Valley Conference slugfest at McCracken Field.


The Raiders did not score an offensive touchdown and managed only 144 total yards of offense, but time and again the defense -- and McHenry penalties (101 total yards) -- kept the Warriors (0-2, 0-2) out of the end zone.

"The coaches put me in the right position to make plays. We watched a lot of film on them, I read the play and just made it," Martino said. "The (punt) block, that was all designed. I came off the edge, (the punter) took his time and I got it. It was a huge play at the beginning of the game. We work our butts off and it shows up in games like this."

Teammate Joey Arvidson scooped up the loose ball at the 31 and took it into the end zone for a 6-3 Huntley lead.

The Warriors also struggled on offense in the first half, mustering just 87 total yards (20 rushing, 67 passing). But they came out firing in the third quarter as quarterback Andrew Hoffman (16 for 26, 226 yards) completed his first four passes for 125 yards, but a key holding penalty thwarted the drive, forcing McHenry to settle for the second of Nathan Wirch's field goal. He was 2-for-2 on the night, good from 31 and 37 yards.

"Our offense did not come to play tonight, but we made some adjustments at halftime," McHenry coach Jon Niemic said of his team's second-half surge. "But you can't go down the field and settle for field goals. You have got into the end zone when you get that deep. That interception (by Martino) was not on our quarterback. That was 100 percent on me. I will shoulder this loss. We will fix things as a family and as a unit and get prepared for Jacobs next week.¨

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Despite Hoffman's 226 yards in the air -- 159 of which came after halftime -- Huntley held the strong Warrior ground attack to 95 yards on 28 carries (3.4 yards per carry). Brody Hallin led McHenry with 55 hard-earned yards on 18 carries.

McHenry had one final last-ditch drive in the fourth quarter, taking the ball from its own 30 to the Huntley 24, but Huntley's James Lang made a diving interception with 3:40 to play that all but sealed the verdict.

¨Our defense and special teams really stepped up tonight, especially the defense in the second half," said Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak, whose team lost in Week 1 to Crystal Lake Central. "We had to make adjustments that would give us a chance. You can't go down 0-2 in this league. There are too many good teams.¨

Kyle Kaempf snared six Hoffman passes for 116 yards while Huntley's Emanual Tinajero led the Huntley rushing attack with 76 yards on 22 carries.

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