8/24 7:30 @
4A Playoffs Round 1 vs. Braidwood
Coalers have their revenge
In a replay of a week-three upset loss, the Coalers handily defeated Interstate Eight foe Reed-Custer 34-7 in round one of the playoffs. In a game billed above all as a revenge game for Coal City they did not disappoint.
Many figured that the more improved team would walk into round two triumphant; others assumed Coal City just needed to make fewer miscues than they did earlier in the season. Whether the result was one more than the other or a combination of both, the Coalers looked impressive in every facet of the game.
Though the game finished brightly it had a rather inauspicious opening. The Coalers punted the ball on their opening possession and coughed it up on the next two. They held on to the ball for just over six minutes and permitted the Comets nothing in return.
The second quarter began and ended well for Coal City. Following a drive in which Reed-Custer could not get going the Coalers took over deep in their own territory. Quarterback/safety/punter Gavin Johnston pinned Coal City at their own one-yard-line with a dazzling punt that took a great bounce (roll actually) and went out of bounds just to the left of the pylon on the home side-line.
When asked of his feelings at that time in a scoreless match Head Coach Lenny Onsen said, “I was worried. I’m always worried out there but in that situation, with what happened before, definitely.” What happened before was in the week three clash when the Coalers were faced with a similar situation; running back Zach Smith lost the football and it rolled into the endzone and resulted in a safety. Not this time.
Smith took a 4-yard run out to give Coal City a little breathing room. On a critical third and long, the Coalers converted when sophomore quarterback J.T. Blaine dropped back and found senior receiver Ben Rouse in the left flat. The ball was placed just at the rear of Rouse which allowed him to make a move to pick up 11 yards and the first down. If the Coalers did not gain assurance from that clutch play, they would on the next.
On first down, Blaine rolled to his right and passed the ball between Braidwood defenders to tight end Nick Bonarek. Bonarek picked up a block from receiver Brian Goff, caused a Comet cornerback to skid and fall and was off to the races. Bonarek only stopped to receive congratulations from teammates and bleachers full of boisterous Coaler fans after an 87 yard touchdown.
It is rare that a player plays on the defensive line in one series and then blazes by an entire defense en route to a touchdown reception, but Bonarek knows what it takes to win playoff games. “Nick started three playoff games for us as a sophomore and tonight makes the ninth that he’s started for us. He’s a senior and a leader of this team. When we get to the playoffs we put a lot of pressure on those seniors; if we lose that’s the last time they suit up here” stated Onsen.
With the 7-0 lead the Coaler defense did what they always seem to when it counts; stop the other team. While Matt Pivonka and Gavin Johnston had excellent games in week three neither was able to put his mark on the game in week ten. Pivonka ran for 54 yards on 15 carries for 3.6 yards per rush. Johnston, meanwhile, completed only 6 of 18 pass tries for 69 yards and was sacked three times.
Bernie D’Orazio, making up for an earlier fumble, led the way for the Coalers in tackles with 10, including a sack. Bonarek and Matt Rodriguez also brought down Johnston behind the line and finished with 8 and 6 tackles respectively.
Keegan Grant, Kevin Tuskey, Brian Naiden, Jack Carpenter, Luke Turner, Nick Trotter, Noah Roseland, Smith, Timm Kroeger, Austin McDowell, Michael Bernard and Chris Walsh joined them in the stat book with tackles.
“The defense is really playing well right now. We gave up 21 to Wilmington in a close loss and if a couple plays go the other way, who knows about that one. By brining J.T. up to play quarterback it allowed us to move Jack Carpenter into that middle linebacker spot and Bonarek to the line. We feel that one move has made us better at all three positions” explained Onsen.
On their next drive the Coalers were faced with another decisive situation. On forth and three yards to go with a minute and a half left in the first half, Blaine snuck up the gut for the first down. Smith took the ball three successive times following the quarterback sneak; the last was for a touchdown a yard away.
While they would be happy with that ending the half, the Coalers caused a break on the ensuing kickoff. While faking a reverse, Comet receiver Brennan Webster had the ball taken away from him and Bernard pounced upon it at the 9-yard-line.
Smith immediately ran the ball across the goal line to make the Comets pay and the life was quickly taken from the Braidwood faithful.
As if the manner in which they ended the first half was not bad enough for Reed-Custer fans, players and coaches alike the way they began the second half took the cake. On a short kickoff Kroeger, a sophomore, ran into the middle of a pack and got lost. By the time the Comets found the 5’6” receiver he was long on his way to a 75-yard touchdown return.
With a 27-0 lead in-hand, the Coalers were content to chew up the clock on the last half of Reed-Custer football for the 2005 season. Smith carried the load, primarily, in the first half but in the second shared time with Roseland. Smith completed the game with 23 carries for 67 yards and a pair of scores.
Roseland scored from three yards away on his forth try of the night. The touchdown made it a 34-0 game with 8:22 to go. Roseland ran nine times for 49 yards (5.4 per carry).
The Comets spoiled Coal City’s bid for a shutout at the 3:51 mark when Johnston located receiver John Brissa in the endzone for a 24 yard score. The extra point sailed through and the Coalers ran out the clock and walked off the field 34-7 victors. Fans exited the stadium without delay and danced all the way back home.
By Jim Ludes
Last Season's Record:
First Varsity Season:
Past Player Watch
-Coal City HS (official)
8/25 7:30 H
8/26 7:30 @
8/27 7:30 H *
8/29 7:30 @ *
8/30 7:30 H *