Joliet Catholic ousts Wheaton Academy
If possible, most teams prefer a balanced offensive attack.
And most nights, Joliet Catholic is more than capable of showcasing those capabilities.
But other nights, and Friday was one of them, the Hilltoppers are better served by simply putting their collective heads down and steamrolling over the opposition.
And after being slowed down by a long scoring drive from the visitors from Wheaton Academy and a turnover, Joliet Catholic went back to basics, scored 27-unanswered second quarter points and rolled to a 48-14 victory.
Joliet Catholic (11-0) will now play the winner of Saturday's game between Wheaton St. Francis and Genoa-Kingston in next weekend's quarterfinal round.
The Hilltoppers started fast and after forcing a Wheaton Academy three-and-out to start the game, they needed just three plays to get on the board with Aidan Voss scoring from 14 yards out. Joliet Catholic quickly forced another punt and the Hilltoppers appeared on the verge on marching in for another score. But an interception inside the 5-yard line squelched the drive.
Wheaton Academy responded to the good fortune by putting forth easily its best offensive drive of the night and milked the rest of the first quarter out and scored on a 4-yard scramble from quarterback Belay Brummel. The Warriors missed the extra point and still trailed 7-6 but for the moment believed that they could hang with the highly touted Hilltoppers.
That emotion wouldn't last long. With a refocus on the running game, Joliet Catholic's offensive line began blasting out mammoth gaps for the Hilltoppers to run through. And the stable of Hilltopper running backs, which would finish with four different running backs finishing with 100-plus yards on the game, were happy to benefit from those efforts.
Jordan Anderson scored three second-quarter touchdowns and Vinny Iannantone added another as the Hilltoppers went into the break with a 34-6 lead. Joliet Catholic ended the half with 329 rushing yards.
"It's always up to them, the offensive line, the whole season, opening up holes," Anderson said. "It's a developed offensive line that has really come together, and we've come together to have a really good offense. We've all come together as one."
Joliet Catholic finished with 515 yards in the game. Voss led the attack with 137 yards, Anderson had 136 yards to go with his four touchdowns, Iannantone added 121 and Ryan Louthan finished with 101 yards.
"We haven't had four guys over the 100-yard mark in awhile, that's a pretty cool stat," Joliet Catholic coach Jake Jaworski said. "It was just kind of taking what the defense was giving us. Ryan Loughan, our fullback, has been kind of quiet based on defenses we've seen. And it was good to see him get some carries and have a successful night, and Aidan is good with his feet and Jordan and Vinny are what they are. But when you add those other two guys, it just complements it, and that's the beauty of this offense."
Wheaton Academy finished 8-3. Brummel finished with 168 yards passing and connected with Eddie Kasper for a 25-yard touchdown pass late in the game to close out the scoring. The short passing attack worked in spots, most notably during the 97-yard drive in the first half. But ultimately, Joliet Catholic's size advantage was too much for the Warriors to overcome on both sides of the football.