Huntley builds early lead, downs McHenry
Football is a game of opportunities, and Huntley took advantage of those opportunities when it needed to the most on Friday night in a 25-13 win over McHenry.
In need of finding some traction on offense, Huntley provided an opportunity for running back Haiden Janke to shine on its third possession of the game. The junior running back rose to the occasion as his number was called 10 times on the drive, running for 81 yards. Janke capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run and put the Red Raiders up 10-0.
"I would never believe that I would have a drive like that, I really appreciate the offensive linemen for giving the opportunity to make a difference like," said Janke, who finished with 39 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
On McHenry's next possession, it was Huntley's Ben Wiley's turn to make the most of the moment. The senior defensive lineman scooped up a fumble and raced 30 yards to give Huntley its second touchdown in less than a minute.
"When I crossed the goal line, I just thought, 'Wow, I just scored.' Time stood still for a moment, I couldn't believe it," said Wiley, who also had a key sack in the second half.
Down 16-0 going into the third quarter, McHenry's offense came to life.
The Warriors called on their passing game to put points on the board and in their first possession of the second half, quarterback Dom Caruso hit Jacob Zarek with a 41-yard touchdown strike to make it 16-7. The next time the Warriors had the ball, they continued to find success through the air. Caruso (13 of 30 for 214 yards) hit his favorite target as Zachary Maness (six catches for 114 yards) hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass and then caught the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 23-15 Huntley.
With the Raiders clinging to their lead late in the fourth quarter, Huntley punter Mason Wojtas pinned McHenry back to its own 4-yard line with 3:17 remaining. The Huntley defense bent, but did not break. While McHenry drove to the Huntley 18-yard line after converting on four fourth downs during the drive, it provided another opportunity for a Raiders player to make a crucial play.
Senior captain James Lang stepped in front of a throw to the end zone for an interception, and that sealed the second win of the season for Huntley.
"To make an interception late in a game is definitely a dream come true, it really was surreal moment and I knew someone had to make a play in that moment," Lang said.
"Give McHenry credit, they converted on those fourth downs on the last drive, but our defense did just enough to make a difference tonight, I'm proud of our guys," Huntley coach Mike Naymola said.
For McHenry, it was another reminder that the little things add up in close games.
"We had a chance to win, we fought hard the entire game, but we had some errors that really hurt us," McHenry Joel Beard said. "We'll learn and grow."