Kaneland defense keeps Woodstock in check
Josh Mauthe played his twin roles for the Kaneland football team to perfection.
The Kaneland senior periodically plays offense, but his true value to the team is from his defensive-line position.
Friday night in Maple Park, the Woodstock offense was in for a long night against a determined Homecoming-energized Knights' defense.
Kaneland did not require any gaudy offensive numbers in rolling to a 49-7 Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight White victory.
Mauthe was a disruptive force in the first half as the Knights rolled to a threescore lead at the intermission and only extended their cushion in the second half by ultimately forcing four turnovers.
Operating repeatedly from short fields on offense, Kaneland throttled the Blue Streaks, who could muster all of 12 yards' offense on 22 first-half plays from scrimmage.
In addition to their three interceptions and Dawson Trebolo fourth-quarter fumble recovery, the Kaneland defense more than set the tone with three consecutive three-and-outs to begin the game.
"It was a team effort, working together and executing in practice," Mauthe said of the Knights' stingy defense. "It was really just coming together as a team; we're all doing our responsibilities. It lets us make those plays (on defense). I am really grateful for my teammates for everything."
The Knights' workhorse back on offense, senior Tyler Bradshaw, had three scores from inside of four yards.
Bradshaw added a second straight 2-yard burst off tackle on the first play of the second quarter to double the Knights' early lead to 14-0.
The score came on the footsteps of Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson connecting with Aric Johnson on a 53-yard strike -- the longest play from scrimmage for either team -- on the final play of the first quarter.
Mauthe punched in the Knights' third-first half short score on fourth-and-one moments after Johnny Spallasso snared the first of the three Kaneland picks.
The one-sided nature of the game only widened after the break as Bradshaw opened the third-quarter scoring with another touchdown run from a yard out.
Of the Blue Streak' first eight possessions, half ended after three plays and a punt; Alexander Panico terminated a fifth drive with the Knights' second interception, and Woodstock fell short on fourth down on another drive.
Ruchaj raced 35 yards untouched to give the Knights their sixth touchdown of the contest.
"They put us in position to do well," Ruchaj said of the Knights' defense routinely giving the offense starting drives in plus territory. "I wasn't even touched (on the 35-yard touchdown run). (Wide receiver) Dom DeBlasio had a great block on the edge. It was a walk-in touchdown."
Charlie Gilmore virtually monopolized the Blue Streaks' entire offensive production on their lone scoring drive.
The junior wide receiver had almost 100 yards of all-purpose yardage on the Streaks' lone score as he returned a kickoff 60 yards before scoring on the next play -- a 35-yard collaboration with Jackson Lyons -- to avert Woodstock being shut out.
"We just couldn't move the ball," Gilmore said of the Streaks' near-game-long struggles. "Our defense was doing everything. I needed to do something there. We hadn't scored in two weeks."
Kaneland responded as Vinny McDonald turned the third interception into a 54-yard touchdown.
The Knights' Sam Bruno was 7-for-7 on extra points.