Prairie Ridge blanks Jacobs
Prairie Ridge's offense put up silly numbers a year ago, led by the nation's leading rusher in quarterback Tyler Vasey, while the Wolves defense struggled mightily at times to stop teams from reaching the end zone.
On Friday, the Wolves defense came to play.
In the second half alone, Prairie Ridge forced Jacobs into three turnover on downs and forced a fumble on the Golden Eagles' other possession.
A first-quarter touchdown by senior running back Dom Creatore was all the Wolves needed in a 6-0 victory in the Fox Valley Conference opener.
"[The defense] took their lumps last year, and they heard all about it," Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. "I think we saw their dedication in the offseason. I told [defensive coordinator Andy] Petersen, I haven't seen our defense play that fast in a long time.
"We were just flying around and making tackles. It was great to see."
Jacobs (0-1, 0-1 FVC) actually outgained Prairie Ridge (1-0, 1-0) in total yards, 185-138, but the Golden Eagles were unable to come up with a big play against a fast and determined Wolves defense.
Jacobs got the ball near midfield in the game's final moments, but a sack by Luke Vanderwiel set the Eagles back and forced them to throw up two desperation passes that didn't come close.
"We preached before the game, bring the intensity no matter what," said Creatore, who also plays linebacker. "Win the first 15 seconds of the game and keep pushing. Keep being aggressive, keep being the attackers, and that's what we did."
Leading the way on the defensive line for the Wolves were John Fallaw, Gavin Tinch, Walter Pollack and Chris McCabe.
Prairie Ridge's defensive players and coaches met on the first day of summer and had one goal in mind -- be better than last year.
"There were no excuses," Fallaw said. "We had to start carrying our own weight. From that day on, that was our goal. And the defense has been doing pretty well with it. Everyone was on pursuit. A frenzied bad attitude to the ball."
Creatore scored on Prairie Ridge's first possession as he followed a block by Fallaw and raced 42 yards to the end zone with 3:17 left in the first quarter. The Wolves missed the extra point, but that wouldn't matter thanks to a stellar defensive effort.
Jacobs' best chance to score came in the second quarter on the possession after Prairie Ridge scored. Looking to potentially take the lead, the Eagles had an 18-play, 75-yard drive that stalled out at the Wolves' 6-yard line. Jacobs was looking to punch it in when the ball was mishandled and recovered by Prairie Ridge's Zander Severson.
"We were going to run a trap play, the hole was wide open and we fumble the ball away" Jacobs coach Brian Zimmerman said. "That stuff can't happen. We're our own worst enemies. It kills me because we're a really good football team.
"Two out of three years we've gone toe-to-toe with these guys. They're a great team, but we feel like we shot ourselves in the foot."
Jacobs' defense was up to the task, as well, and held Prairie Ridge to only 28 yards in the second half. Zimmerman was proud of his defense for not backing down.
"In my four years, that's my proudest moment from a defensive standpoint," Zimmerman said. "You can't ask for anything better. Two series in a row [in the second half], we stopped them on fourth down, and that's a really good offensive line they have there. Super proud of my guys."
Creatore led the Wolves with 57 yards on 10 carries, and junior running back Jack Finn ran 13 times for 54 yards.
Sophomore running back Caden DuMelle led Jacobs with 57 yards on nine carries. T.O. Boddie added 47 yards, including a 28-yard run.
Prairie Ridge hosts Crystal Lake South in Week 2, while Jacobs play at home against Hampshire.
Fallaw said the Wolves are confident they can get their offense rolling.
"There's a lot of potential there," Fallaw said. "There were one or two assignments that got missed that shot a play down, but the play we scored a touchdown on, it was fluid. We just need more fluid plays where everyone does their 1/11th."
Cary-Grove 23, Burlington Central 12:
All 262 of Cary-Grove's total yards on offense came on the ground during its 23-12 Week 1 Fox Valley Conference win over Burlington Central Central Friday night.
Senior running back Andrew Prio ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns for the Trojans -- one from 5 yards in the first quarter, then a second TD from 29 yards in the second -- as C-G never trailed.
His second romp to the end zone came on a 3rd-and-25 play, where he beat defenders to the edge, then raced up the sideline past the Rockets' secondary.
That came with 2:10 left in the first half, and gave the Trojans (1-0, 1-0, FVC) a 16-0 lead.
A minute later, Ian Moran and Thomas Battaglia teamed up to block a Burlington Central punt.
It was scooped up by junior Charlie Ciske, who set the Trojans up with first-and-goal at the Rockets' 5.
"Just pure joy when I scooped that ball up," Ciske said. "Because it was so deep in their territory. That's a huge field position flip."
But it didn't lead to points, as the Trojans missed a 29-yard field goal as the halftime horn sounded.
By that time, C-G sophomore fullback Logan Abrams had 107 rushing yards on 13 carries, and was their workhorse.
He finished with 25 carries and a game-best 160 yards.
"Couldn't have done any of it without my tremendous offensive line," Abrams said. "Those guys gave it their best effort out there tonight, and came ready to play. I'm grateful to have such hardworking teammates around me."
C-G's special teams magic struck again four minutes into the fourth quarter. Senior Jack Rocen took a punt return 34 yards to the house, extending the Trojans' fourth quarter advantage to 23-0.
"The punt return for the score, and the field goal they kicked in the first half were the difference," Rockets coach Brian Iossi said. "Cary-Grove is a good football team, and we are closer to their level than we think."
Despite the 23-point deficit, the Rockets refused to quit.
Burlington Central got a 4-yard TD run by Joseph Kowall (16 carries, 66 yards) with 3:02 left in regulation.
Then, after recovering an onside kick, Rockets quarterback Jackson Alcorn (16 for 31, 136 yards, TD) found Michael Person on a 6-yard pass for 6 points, with 1:23 to play.
In total, the Trojans only outgained the Rockets (262-261) by a yard. Neither team committed a turnover.
"Just a pretty clean game for the most part for the first game of the season," C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. "Only a few penalties each way.
"Credit to our kids, but credit to Burlington as well. They've got a pretty talented group over there, and I think they're gonna do pretty well in the FVC this season."
Iossi felt similarly.
"We aren't going to let this loss define us," Iossi said. "It's tough to lose, but these kids don't have any quit in them. They have character.
"When we watch film later this week, we're going to learn from it. We're going to get better at everything we do. I was real proud of our effort, on the road, against a team that's traditionally an FVC power."
-- Tim Froehling, Shaw Local
Huntley 26, Crystal Lake Central 21:
Junior quarterback Braylon Bower still had plenty of power left in his cramping legs just when he and his Huntley teammates needed them most in Friday night's Fox Valley Conference season opener at Red Raider Stadium.
Bower capped a 209-yard rushing night as he scored from 6 yards with 1:18 to play to give the Red Raiders a dramatic 26-21 victory over the league's preseason favorite before a full house. Bower rushed for 167 of his yards in the second half and teammate Zach Rysavy preserved the win with a diving interception of Jason Penza's pass at the Crystal Lake Central 41 with 47.7 seconds to play.
"Tonight was the night I had to let it all out," Bower said. "I knew my offensive line would be able to block for me and my running backs (Haiden Janke and Reichen Dvorak) would be able to block for me."
The third touchdown run by Janke (17 carries, 88 yards), who had his own battles with leg cramps, got Huntley within 21-20 with 3:10 left but it missed the extra point. The defense forced a three-and-out on Penza (307 yards passing, 2 TDs) and Huntley got the ball back at the Central 32.
Bower went 15 yards on the first play but also went down on the sideline with leg cramps.
"I was concerned but I have a lot of confidence in my team," Bower said.
One play and a false start penalty and Bower was back in the game. He gained 12 yards to the 6 and then raced to the left corner of the end zone on first-and-goal behind Adam Tramuta, Jack Crudele, Vincent Tiberi, Cameron Mueller and Kelley Gassner.
"We've known Braylon since fourth and fifth grade and he's been in our youth programs forever," said Huntley coach Mike Naymola. "We restricted his running a little bit in the summer to keep the hits off him, but once he hits the hole he can do more with his legs than I thought he would be able to."
But Huntley still faced the prospect of stopping the dangerous Penza and George Dimopoulos, who caught two touchdown passes. But after a 20-yard completion, Rysavy put an end to that threat and a start to his team's big celebration.
Crystal Lake Central had taken a 21-14 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter when Griffin Buehler scored on a 6-yard run to cap a 96-yard drive.
-- Joe Stevenson, Shaw Local
ACC 38, St. Edward 22:
Aurora Central Catholic set the tone for Friday night's nonconference game at St. Edward on its very first drive of the game.
Engineered by senior quarterback Kevin Stanislo, who ran for 22 yards and passed for 62 on the drive, he scored on a 2-yard run with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
The Chargers (1-0) never looked back.
Stanislo, who accounted for 285 yards of total offense, threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 others as ACC opened with a 38-22 win over the Green Wave at Greg True Field in Elgin.
"Kevin makes me look good," said ACC coach Christian Rago. "That first drive was so important. We got the momentum right away and that gave us a different attitude."
Stanislo ran 15 times for 112 yards which included touchdown runs of 2 and 25 yards. The senior also completed 13-of-23 passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns to Grant Bohr and Conor Hickey.
"That first drive of the game was so important," said Stanislo. "It was a great team effort. We wanted to make sure we punched it in on the first drive."
Hickey, who grabbed a 50-yard pass, caught 3 passes for 67 yards while Grayson Mayerhofer caught 4 for 27.
Trey Siefrid spearheaded the Charger running game with 92 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown run of 2 yards,
St. Edward (0-1), which trailed 20-0 at halftime, didn't quit and scored 2 late fourth quarter touchdowns on a 23-yard pass from Andrew Walker to Nolan Pomeroy and a 55-yard TD pass from Walker to Aiden Coleman.
"We made way too many mistakes in the first half and that is what we talked about at halftime," said the Green Wave's first-year coach Shane Finnane. "We didn't show enough discipline and focus. We didn't quit."
-- Dave Hess