Wildcats win, Coalers and Comets battle hard

Photo by Eric Fisher

Friday night football brought one victory and a pair of losses for three area teams.

Wilmington scored 12 unanswered points in the final quarter to win 39-20 at Manteno; Coal City gave powerhouse Morris a scare until the very end losing 21-7; and Reed-Custer was only one touchdown away in the third quarter before falling to Fieldcrest 34-20.

THE WILDCATS did what they do best -- ran the ball right up the middle -- to out-rush Manteno 285-52 while shutting down the host's passing game in the final period. Wilmington trailed 7-0 in the first before building a 20-7 lead in the second thanks to touchdown runs from Sam Hafner (6 yards) and Conner Dempsay (2 yards). Dempsay also intercepted a Manteno pass and ran it in for a score. Manteno answered with a four-play passing drive to narrow the gap to 20-14 just before the half.

Just when Wilmington thought it had some breathing room midway through the third quarter, thanks for a 4-yard TD run by Dempsay to make it 27-14, Manteno completed a 33-yard pass for a score to make it 27-20, Wilmington. From then on the 'Cats were in control, grinding in out on the ground while burning up the clock. The fourth quarter was all Wildcats as quarterback Keaton Hopwood scored off a 1-yard plunge, followed late in the quarter with a 16-yard scamper by Sam Hafner to make the final 39-20.

THE COALERS earned some respect from the Redskins before a packed house at Coal City. The defending State runners-up Redskins scored first to grab a 7-0 first half lead but got frustrated that Coal City's defense was so scrappy. The Coalers kept it close in the third when senior Connor Skubic hustled 29-yards for the score to tie things up 7-7. Morris managed to regain the lead 13-7 with 1:20 left in the third period with a 3-yard running play. The clincher came three minutes in the fourth quarter when the Redskins turned a 20-yard pass play into a 40-yard touchdown, then scored a two-point conversion to win it.

It was the first time these two teams have played each other in football and after the Coalers earned their respect rest assured there is a new rivalry forming.

THE COMETS will regroup this week after hurting themselves with five turnovers at Fieldcrest. On paper Reed-Custer won but on the field it ended with the hosting Knights as the victors. The Comets racked up 319 yards of total offense compared to 299 for Fieldcrest and had possession of the ball 36 minutes (Fieldcrest 12 mins) to control the tempo of the game. It was the turnovers that killed them.

When RCHS got down 6-0, they tied it up with a 74-yard pass play from AJ Cherry to Blake Foster. Before the first quarter was through the Comets went up 13-12 when quarterback Josh Loomis bolted 9-yards for a touchdown. But Fieldcrest capitalized on those turnovers, scoring twice in the second off a rushing play and passing play to go up 18-13 at the half.

The Knight increase their lead to 26-13 in the third before Loomis cut their lead to 26-20 with a two-yard TD run. That would be as close as the Comets would get as Fieldcrest iced it with a 20-yard TD pass in the final quarter.

Reed-Custer returns home Friday to host Chicago Brooks for a varsity only contest. Coal City will travel to Wilmington Friday.

For complete coverage including action photos see the Aug. 29 print editions of the Free Press Newspapers.