Criter sparks St. Francis to win over IC Catholic Prep

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) runs the ball in for a first-quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) runs the ball in for a first-quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's quarterback Dennis Mandala (11) looks for an open receiver against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's quarterback Dennis Mandala (11) looks for an open receiver against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball against St. Francis during the second quarter of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball against St. Francis during the second quarter of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brendan Bigane (24) tackles St. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brendan Bigane (24) tackles St. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball late in the first half against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Malik Gray (5) runs the ball late in the first half against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) celebrates his third quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) celebrates his third quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) runs the ball against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) runs the ball against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's quarterback Dennis Mandala (11) looks for an open receiver during the fourth quarter against St. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's quarterback Dennis Mandala (11) looks for an open receiver during the fourth quarter against St. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) works to maneuver around IC Catholic Prep's George O'Brien (10) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Blake Lawson (21) works to maneuver around IC Catholic Prep's George O'Brien (10) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Amari Head (12) breaks the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Connor McCoy (48) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Amari Head (12) breaks the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Connor McCoy (48) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Amari Head (12) runs the ball against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Amari Head (12) runs the ball against IC Catholic Prep during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) tries to spin out the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Antonio Richardson (17) during the first half of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisSt. Francis' Adam Criter (2) tries to spin out the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Antonio Richardson (17) during the first half of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brendan Bigane (24) mid air hit on receiver St. Francis' Dash Dorsey (18) pops the ball out of his hands for an incomplete pass during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brendan Bigane (24) mid air hit on receiver St. Francis' Dash Dorsey (18) pops the ball out of his hands for an incomplete pass during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Eric Karner (19) scores a second-quarter touchdown against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Eric Karner (19) scores a second-quarter touchdown against St. Francis during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Eric Karner (19) celebrates his second quarter touchdown against St. Francis with IC Catholic Prep's Isaiah Gonzalez (71) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Eric Karner (19) celebrates his second quarter touchdown against St. Francis with IC Catholic Prep's Isaiah Gonzalez (71) during a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brian Kolodziejczyk (81) pumps his fist after making the extra point in the second quarter Ast. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brian Kolodziejczyk (81) pumps his fist after making the extra point in the second quarter Ast. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

  • Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brian Kolodziejczyk (81) and IC Catholic Prep's George O'Brien (10) celebrate Kolodziejczyk's extra point kick in the second quarter Ast. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    Mark Black / Shaw Media IllinoisIC Catholic Prep's Brian Kolodziejczyk (81) and IC Catholic Prep's George O'Brien (10) celebrate Kolodziejczyk's extra point kick in the second quarter Ast. Francis in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

 
By Bobby Narang
Shaw Media
Updated 10/23/2021 12:26 AM

Adam Criter was in do-it-all mode Friday night.

Throughout the season, the St. Francis senior running back/defensive back/punter/punt returner has been a jack-of-all-trades player for his team.

 

The Spartans required Criter to do all his jobs at a highly efficient and productive level against undefeated IC Catholic Prep in the regular-season finale and tuneup for both teams before the playoffs.

Criter sparked the offense with his running, delivered four punts inside the red zone and played solid defense. And he returned punts, including a 16-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Led by Criter's all-around play, the Spartans scored two touchdowns in the second half to post a hard-fought 19-7 victory over the Knights in Wheaton.

Criter felt the pain from his busy night, even leaving the field twice due to an injury only to return a few plays later with a clean bill of health.

Criter, who transferred from Downers Grove North to St. Francis following his sophomore season, finished with 21 carries for 92 yards to go with TD runs of 9 and 6 yards, and he completed an 18-yard pass in the first half.

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"Our offensive line played great," Criter said. "Everyone went out there and competed. We knew it was going to be a dogfight today. (IC Catholic) is a really good team. I just wanted to help my team out in any way today. This win means everything for us. It gives us a better playoff seed. We're hoping to have home-field advantage for our first playoff game."

The Spartans (7-2) did most of their damage on the ground, compiling 259 yards rushing to go with 80 yards in the air.

The Knights (8-1) managed 65 yards rushing and 195 yards passing to suffer their first defeat of the season.

When Criter wasn't running the ball out of the Wildcat formation in a no-huddle attack, St. Francis senior running back Blake Lawson was gobbling up yards on the ground or via receptions.

Lawson, who also ran the majority of his running plays from the Wildcat formation, finished with 181 total yards, with 23 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown and 8 receptions for 50 yards. Lawson broke the game open with a 34-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I feel me and (Adam) had a good connection, and we were patient with our blocks and just hit the ball when it was there," Lawson said. "We prepared all week for this game, to be a big part of the offense."

The Spartans' defense bottled up IC Catholic junior running back Malik Gray for most of the game. Gray, who ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns against Wheaton Academy, had just 31 yards in the first half to finish with 49 yards.

With the running game struggling to move the ball, the Knights' big-play offense was kept in check besides quarterback Dennis Mandala's 44-yard touchdown pass to Eric Karner late in the second quarter.

The Spartans' defense ended with 2 sacks and an interception to notch their second win in 2021 over the Knights, including a 28-0 triumph in the spring.

"I couldn't be more prouder of them," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "They followed the whole game plan and they executed it to perfection. We were physical and tried to run the ball downhill. We were fortunate to come out with a win against an excellent team."

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