Joliet Catholic, Byron claim state titles
Make it 15 state football championships for Joliet Catholic Academy.
The Hilltoppers added to their Illinois high school record thanks to a 56-27 victory over Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin Friday in the Class 4A state title game at Huskie Stadium on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
University of Illinois commit Jordan Anderson ran for a Class 4A state-title-game record 306 yards and scored 5 touchdowns to help JCA (14-0), which beat Benet Academy, Montini and Wheaton Academy this season, take the top prize for the first time since 2018.
Anderson's 306 yards broke the 2011-established old record of 244. His 5 TDs fell one shy of the 4A title-game record.
JCA piled up 563 yards of total offense, including 482 rushing. Vinny Iannantone, the team's leading rusher this season, ran for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. Aidan Voss threw 2 touchdowns, including one to Anderson. Iannantone finished the season with 1,837 rushing yards and 21 TDs, while Anderson ended with 1,544 and 33 TDs.
Sacred Heart Griffin (12-2), under the direction of 38th-year coach Ken Leonard, was in search of its sixth state title and first since 2014. Cyclones quarterback Ty Lott threw for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. Madixx Morris caught 5 passes for 105 yards and 2 TDs.
Byron 35, Tolono Unity 7:
Byron left little doubt as to who the top team in Class 3A is after jumping out to a 20-0 first-half lead in this battle of unbeatens and No. 1 seeds. Byron scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions in a game that deteriorated into a blowout.
The Tigers (14-0) amassed 437 yards of total offense, including 373 via the ground. Ethan Palzkill scored 3 touchdowns and had 155 yards of total offense. Chandler Binkley ran 19 times for 164 yards to aid the Byron offensive attack.
Byron, which beat Lisle and IC Catholic Prep in the playoffs, won the program's second title and first since the Ev Stine-coached Tigers won it all in 1999. Byron finished second in Class 3A in 2018 and 2019 under current coach Jeff Boyer.
Tolono Unity (13-1), located in Champaign County, was looking for its first state crown after runner-up endings in 2000, 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2015.
Wilmington 24, Nashville 7:
Wilmington broke open a 14-7 game with 10 fourth-quarter points to win the Class 2A state title. Jacob Friddle's 34-yard TD run and Allan Richards' 32-yard field goal in the fourth provided padding for the Wildcats (14-0), who play in the same Illinois Central Eight Conference as Lisle.
Wilmington, which also won a state title in 2014, ran for 234 yards and limited Nashville to minus-5 yards rushing and 107 total yards of offense. Friddle finished the game with 157 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns, while Colin James ran for 71 yards. Nashville (12-2) finished second in Class 2A in 2019 and was in search of its first state title.
Lena-Winslow 38, Carrollton 25:
Lena-Winslow, the No. 6 seed in the top half of the Class 1A bracket, won its fourth state title under coach Ric Arand and third since 2017 thanks in part to a 24-point second-quarter outburst. The two teams combined for 43 second-quarter points with Lena-Winslow leading 30-19 at intermission.
The 12-2 Panthers, who beat Aurora Christian in the first round of the playoffs, racked up 452 rushing yards, headlined by Marey Roby's 241 yards on 27 carries and 3 touchdowns.
Grant Pohlman ran for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns and threw for 111 yards and 2 more TDs for Carrolton (12-2), which had a 12-game winning streak snapped.
-- Compiled by Mike Miazga