Wheaton Academy advances past Coal City
All along, the goal for the Wheaton Academy football team was to secure its first home game in the IHSA playoffs.
Now it's time to level up for the Warriors, who defeated Coal City 36-3 Friday night in a Class 4A first-round matchup to improve to 8-2.
The reward? A date with Joliet Catholic in the second round. The Hilltoppers are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A; Wheaton Academy is 10th.
"Nothing's going to change," said junior quarterback Belay Brummel, who went 18-for-27 passing and threw four touchdown passes. "We take every opponent as someone we can beat and we're not going to back down from anybody. We're going to lay our hearts on the field."
Wheaton Academy rolled up 427 yards of offense against Coal City, including 277 off Brummel's arm. Sophomore receiver Liam White had 6 catches for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Defensively, the Warriors held the Coalers to just 82 yards of offense. They also picked up a fumble and an interception.
Now consider that they were missing three two-way starters, including senior quarterback and strong safety David Dorn, who has a high ankle sprain. Plus, the weather was lousy.
No matter. White was coach Jim Johanik's predicted X-factor, taking a screen pass from Brummel on Wheaton Academy's first offensive play and turning it into a 56-yard touchdown. He also kicked the extra point.
"It worked out perfectly," White said. "I got perfect blocks, my quarterback threw me a dime, and I was just gone."
Later in the first quarter, Brummel connected with White again, this time on a 27-yard touchdown pass. White kicked that extra point, too. Suddenly, it was 21-0 Wheaton Academy.
The Warriors never looked back, though White was involved in another interesting play in the third quarter. He punted the ball and it was downed at the Coal City 1-yard line. Three plays later, White stuffed Coal City senior running back Brady Best in the end zone for the safety that set the final score.
"I've been doing punting this year and I've been working on it and I've got a couple of guys who taught me some stuff," White said. "I put the edge of the ball down and lightly kicked it and I just got lucky there."
Dorn, who was more than a casual observer on the sideline, was impressed with what he saw by the guys who replaced him.
"Belay did great, and then Breck Peacock came in at safety and receiver and he did awesome this week," said Dorn, who recalled losing to Coal City in the playoffs as a freshman.
"I'm so proud of David Dorn in the sense that he led well throughout the week, knowing and having uncertainty whether he would start or play," Johanik said. "For him to be supportive even when he's not playing, it's what you strive for in this program."
For Coal City, which finished 6-4, it was a rough night a long way from home. The Coalers were missing one of their top running threats, senior Ashton Harvey, due to injury. His replacement, senior Nick Seplak, rushed for a team-high 39 yards.
"We knew they were a good team and we put ourselves behind the eight-ball and definitely kind of altered our game plan a little bit," Coal City coach Francis Loughran said. "There are things you can't let happen against a team like this. It's playoffs; those things get magnified."