Kaneland becomes latest to get run over by Vasey, Prairie Ridge
Kaneland learned quickly Saturday just how hard is to stop Prairie Ridge quarterback Tyler Vasey.
"We can't replicate that in practice, the speed and efficiency that they run that offense," Kaneland coach Patrick Ryan said. "We just said we've got to try and contain him. Make sure we wrap him up, get 11 hats to the football, but that's easier said than done.
"There were times when we had him in the grasp and he still found a way to get out."
Vasey, as he has been all year, was tough to bring down.
The shifty QB shed two Kaneland tacklers and broke free for a 46-yard score on the Wolves' third play from scrimmage, which was only the start of another spectacular day.
Behind the strong play of offensive linemen Angel Rodriguez, Henrik Nystrom, Ethan Goudschaal, Zach Helland and John Fallaw, Vasey ran wild for 279 yards and seven touchdowns to lead No. 2-seeded Prairie Ridge past No. 7 Kaneland 57-22 in their Class 6A second-round game.
Prairie Ridge (10-1) advances to face either Grayslake North or Harlem in the quarterfinal round.
Vasey entered Saturday with three consecutive games of 300 or more rushing yards. Although he was held under that number against the Knights, the Wolves senior reached another milestone: becoming the eighth player in state history with 3,000 rushing yards in a single season.
After Saturday's performance, Vasey went from 11th to fourth on the state's all-time list, according to IHSA records, and now has 3,114 rushing yards in 11 games. Lexington's T.J. Stinde is first with 3,325 yards in 14 games.
Vasey called reaching 3,000 rushing yards a special moment, but he was quick to give credit to his teammates.
Fullback Nathan Greetham ran for 75 yards on a six carries, setting up Vasey's second TD with a 43-yard run, and running back Luke Vanderwiel added 29 yards on two carries, including a 16-yard score.
"I couldn't do anything without the O-line, my [running] backs and tight ends," Vasey said. "Our backs block a lot in our offense. We came out today and our motto was, 'Buy yourself another week.' " And I think PR has done a pretty good job of that over the years. We didn't want to fall short of that."
Rain and strong winds throughout the game led the Knights (7-4) to run a little more than normal, although junior quarterback Troyer Carlson still finished with 217 yards on 17-of-28 passing with three touchdowns and an interception.
Carlson avoided pressure and found Dylan Sanagustin in the back of the end zone for a 21-yard TD to cut Prairie Ridge's lead to 21-7 in the final minute of the first quarter. He hit Aric Johnson (four catches, 86 yards) in stride for a 46-yard TD in the second quarter that made it 28-15, and he added a last-second, 10-yard score to Johnny Spallasso.
Tyler Bradshaw led the running attack with 67 yards on 13 carries. Dom DeBlasio added 81 yards on three catches.
"It certainly limited us a bit," Ryan said of the tough conditions. "I thought Troyer did a good job of dealing with it. If anything, I think it messed with our kicking a little bit. The conditions just got worse and worse as the game went on."
"There was a lot of good leadership in the group this year. They were a tough group of kids, too. Kids that played through injuries and didn't want to come off the field."
Spallasso, a senior, said he was most proud about how Kaneland made big strides on defense.
"Last year, we didn't have the best defense, and we kind of had a down year," Spallasso said. "We all bought in, came back in the offseason and went to work, and I really think it showed up until this point. They're going to be capable of a lot of good stuff next year. We have a lot of great guys coming back."
Fallaw, one of two tackles on the Wolves' line, is excited to get back to work. The Wolves are in the quarterfinals for the seventh time since 2015.
"It's another shot to play with everyone and do it again," Fallaw said. "We don't like to look too far ahead. We think one week at a time."