8/24 7:00 H
6A State Finals vs.Normal
Dergo's Swan Song
Champaign (Memorial Stadium) - Much of the talk surrounding the 6A State Final game was that it had already been played in the quarterfinals when Morris beatJoliet (Catholic). Normal Community didn't believe that coming into the big game on Saturday and the Morris players and their fans stop believing it after the game.
While the Ironmen weren't able to hold Morris' all-star athlete John Dergo to under 100 yards, he had 206. And they weren't able to neutralize him on defense either, he lead the team with 14 tackles. They were able to keep him out of the endzone for most of the 1st half & all of the 2nd half of the game though, which is more than any other team had done this year.
The Ironmen put up a fight on defense, but found out that Morris was more than just John Dergo running the ball, as the talented running back & safety played in what most likely will be his last organized game of football.
The Morris defense held Normal's running backs Austin Davis & Shannon Cobb were held to 104 yards combined.
Craig Lutes added 30 on the ground and ran into trouble in the air as well, connecting on just 5 of 15 pass attempts. Lutes seen pass after pass broken up or worst case, intercepted.
Normal was able to score first though, as Alex Buck intercepted a Donovan Monohan pass in Morris territory. After a short return and a pass interference call on Morris, the Ironmen were held for 3 downs and Nate Rapp kicked a 36 yard field goal to put the Ironmen up 3-0 with 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter.
Morris would return the favor, when Cole Gumm intercepted Lutes and returned it 18 yards to set Morris up with a 1st & 10 on the Normal 34.
Normal had done a great job containing Dergo from start to finish, limiting him from breaking loose on 60 yard runs like he has on other teams. The longest run of the day for Dergo was 34 yards, unfortunately for the Ironmen, it was on the very first play from scrimmage after the Gumm interception and would put Morris up 7-3 with just under 4 minutes left in the 1st half.
The Ironmen jumped right back on the saddle after getting knocked off. Driving down field 58 yards after Davis returned the kickoff 22 yards, starting the Ironmen off at the 28.
With under 10 seconds left in the half, and Normal with at 2nd & 10 on the Morris 19, Lutes was sacked by Matt Enger & fumbled on the play, with Morris' Pat Funk sending the game into the half Morris leading 7-3.
Normal got the ball to start the second half, but would punt shortly after. Morris would give ball to Dergo for 4 plays, getting a first down and 12 yards, the 5th play however would be a hand off to Matt Peterson, who would catch the Ironmen off balance and sprint down field for a 43 yard TD, putting Morris up 14-3 with 6 & a half minutes left to play in the 3rd.
The Peterson TD would turn out to be all the Redskins needed to clinch the schools first football title in 21 years, as they held on to that lead.
Normal's next drive stalled at their own 48, but they held Morris and forced them to go 3 & out on their next possession. The Ironmen would make good on the following drive going 78 yards on 16 plays, but with the drive that started at the end of the 3rd quarter, working almost 7 minutes off the clock, would give the Redskins the ball back with just under 6 minutes left in the game.
Dergo would get the call for one more series. With the score 14-9 in favor of Morris, the Redskins just needed to score again or run the clock into the ground to take home a title after falling in the last 4 of the 5 finals games they'd been it.
Dergo carried the ball 13 times in what would be his most important 13 carries of his career. Starting on the Morris 12 yard line, he'd rush 59 yards and take the ball every time, but once, including a key 4th & 2 play that he got 3 yards on while at the Normal 44 with 2 minutes left to play.
Dergo's last run of 10 yards on 3rd & 8, enabled him to let some one else take the ball for a change. And that some one would be Monohan, who statistically would loose 2 yards on a rush, when he took a knee to end the game and give the Redskin faithful a long awaited championship.
by Vincent Johnson
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