Pair of late scores ends Plano's 20-game win streak

October 6, 2007
By ROB OESTERLE Staff writer

COAL CITY -- Sometimes, you get what you wish for. Sometime, you get even more.

The latter was the case for the Coal City High School football team Friday night in a 28-14 Interstate Eight Conference Small win over Plano, snapping the Reapers' 20-game winning streak.

With 2:05 left to play in a 14-14 game, Coaler quarterback J.T. Blaine was stopped just short of the goal line on 4th-and-1, giving the ball back to Plano.

Then on 2nd-and-9, Plano quarterback Brian Green tried to run a sweep, but met up with Coal City defensive end Jeff Krause. Krause wrapped him up for what looked to be a safety, but the ball popped loose and linebacker Chris Hajdu fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown.

"We were looking to play into the overtime," Plano coach Jim Green said. "He got caught outside and got behind the line and didn't want the safety and tried. I can't fault the kid for trying. I'm going to take the blame for the call in the first place."


Krause was surprised to see the ball coming his way, but knew what to do when it got there.

"I thought they'd just run it up the middle three times and punt," he said. "But then I saw the quarterback rolling my way, so I just threw off my block and went after him. I thought it was a safety, but he fumbled it and Chris (Hajdu) fell on it."

Trailing 21-14 with one minute and 46 seconds to go, Plano was forced to the air. But the Coalers' Robert McCluckie intercepted a Green pass at the 50 with 1:16 to play. Three plays later, Coalers quaterback J.T. Blaine rolled out and got a block on the edge, and a play designed to run out the clock turned into a 50-yard TD run..

"I thought I was in on the quarterback sneak," Blaine said. "But they said I wasn't. On the touchdown, I got a great block from Ryan Verdun on the edge and I was able to get around the corner.

"We've been waiting for this game since they beat us last year."

Both teams came in having recorded three shutouts in their first six games, but offense ruled in the first half.

Coal City (7-0, 4-0) got things going on the third play from scrimmage, when Blaine (10-of-13, 178 yards, 9 carries, 78 yards) hit a wide-open Jon Watters for a 68-yard touchdown pass. Plano responded by driving 86 yards on 11 plays, ending with a 3-yard TD run by Luis Alvarado. Krause blocked the extra-point kick, and the Coalers led 7-6 with 5:07 to play in the first quarter.

The Coaler had a drive of their own going, but gave the ball up on a fumble, and Plano took over at midfield. A double-reverse pass from Green to Kevin Day gained 36 yards, and Green eventually scored on a quarterback sneak. Jeremy Cannon scored the 2-point conversion to give the Reapers (6-1, 3-1) a 14-7 lead.

Coal City answered back, getting a 19-yard completion from Blaine to Timm Kroeger on 4th-and-16 to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Noah Roseland. Morgan Sheridan's extra point kick tied the game with 7:45 to go in the first half, and neither team scored again until Hajdu's fourth-quarter fumble recovery.

The Reapers were held to under 60 yards of offense in the second half after racking up over 170 in the first half.

"A big fourth down play," Green said. "I wish they would have punted it. But they went for it and got the first down and scored, but we were happy though (at) 14-14 and our offense was moving the ball. They made some adjustments at halftime and I guess we thought we did but we didn't make good enough ones. They stopped us on offense pretty good."

Blaine was the difference for Coal City, especially on the drive that set up the winning score.

He hit Verdun with a 21-yard gain to the 50, then, on 3rd-and-9, he found Kroeger for a 26-yard gain on a spectacular diving, sliding catch. On 2nd-and-8 from the 21, he hit Joe Singer down the seam for a 14-yard gain.

"We knew we could hit slants and seam routes on them," Blaine said. "The receivers did a good job of getting open and catching the ball, but it all starts with our defense."

Sun-Times News Group Coal City 28, Plano 14



Who is that kid?
Plano sophomore Cannon makes a name for himself despite loss

October 6, 2007
He began the game with no name, but by the end of Friday night's 28-14 loss at Coal City, Plano sophomore J.J. Cannon was a player who everyone knew -- and future opponents will learn plenty about.

And he only waited two plays before making everyone check their program to see who he was.

Plano found itself trailing 7-0 just 1:37 into the game, and Cannon's first carry of the contest came on a 3rd-and-6 at the Reaper 18.

Coal City 28, Plano 14

• The Plano defense gave up 28 points. The Reapers had only allowed 18 points combined in their first six games.

(when the Offense Fumbles and the other team scores, it isn't the Defense that gives up the points,

and a Saftey is not the defense giving up points)(it should of read like this-

The Plano Defense gave up 21 points, The Reapers had only allowed 16 points combined in the first six games)

• When Plano took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter it was the first time Coal City had trailed all season.

It was an important play -- a punt would give the Coalers excellent field position and a chance to rock the Plano defense with another score.
Instead, Cannon took the ball left and glided around the corner. I'm going to avoid the obvious pun about the way he shot upfield, but make no mistake, he got to the Plano 33 in a blink.

Say hello, Mr. Cannon.

"I just knew from the start I was going to come out with my all, and our team did," the soft-spoken Cannon said. "I was just trying to help the team."

But the youngster with no name on his jersey proved that he wasn't just the "speed" guy in Plano's Wing T offense.

Three plays later, he showed a knack for reading a defense and finding the right avenues. At the Coal City 40, he patiently followed pulling guard Colton Carlson off to the left. Once he determined which lane Carlson cleared, Cannon shifted into a gear that the Coalers were not ready for and was pulled down 35 yards later in mere moments.

Cannon rushed for 61 yards during Plano's opening 83-yard scoring drive and on the Reapers' next scoring possession, he showed a ruggedness that belies his 153-pound frame by bulldozing into the end zone on a two-point conversion.

So who is this kid?

The sophomore entered the game with only 15 carries through five games totaling 57 yards. But there he was to start the game, and he made his impact immediately. He finished with 87 yards on 13 carries.

"He's probably one of our fastest guys. That's why we brought him up," Plano coach Jim Green said. "He's given us that little spark to the outside."

Plano runs the Wing T to perfection, with quarterback Brian Green skillfully hiding his true handoffs and selling his fakes. The point of the offense is to create defensive confusion, making the line and linebackers think they see one thing while another is happening.

But to have a weapon like Cannon in the wingback position adds a dangerous element to that offense. He is the quickest running back I have seen this year, accelerating faster than a breath.

I'm not sure where he's been this year, or if Green saw something in the Coalers' defense that lent itself to exposure by utilizing Cannon, but I'll say this -- this kid should never leave the field the rest of the year.

It sounds like he won't either.

"He explodes through the hole really nice," Green said. "We need him on the varsity. He's going to be a mainstay running the ball at the four-back. He's going to be utilized throughout the rest of the season."

Cannon can be a game-changer, especially in this offense. His frame wouldn't lend itself to 30 carries at this point, but he can score every time he touches the ball. Which is why it looked like he slowed a step in the second half, but also why Coal City game planned for him after intermission.

Make no mistake though, his speed gave the Reapers' some inside breathing room. Fullback Luis Alvarado only had 14 yards rushing in the first half. He had 26 yards in the third quarter alone.

"We made some adjustments at halftime and we stepped up and played pretty well," Coalers coach Lenny Onsen said. "He was faster than I thought. I'll tell you that. He's quicker than I thought."

The kid with no name prevented the Coalers from sagging to the middle of the line of scrimmage, and that threat will only help the Reapers as they march into the playoffs in defense of their Class 3A title.

As for getting that name on the jersey...

"I don't know, maybe," Cannon said with a smile. "I'll think about it."

Plano, Coal City ready for battle of unbeaten

October 5, 2007
By JIM OWCZARSKI Staff writer

Reaper Nation is on the move tonight as Plano heads to Interstate Eight Small conference rival Coal City, putting its 20-game varsity winning streak on the line against the 6-0 Coalers.

The Reapers are also 6-0, and this game will likely determine the conference champion as well as affect seeding for both teams in the playoffs.

"They're very solid," Coalers coach Lenny Onsen said. "Probably the most impressive thing to me is, anytime you win a state championship the next year it's pretty tough in a public school sector. They lost a lot of good talent but to come back and be 6-0, that's pretty impressive for their coaching staff and their kids."

Plano defeated Coal City 24-20 at home last year, and expect another tightly contested game as the Coalers have returned to form after a "down" season last year in which they went 5-4.

"After the way they played us last year, they weren't too far off form," Plano coach Jim Green said. "This group of juniors and seniors, it's been awhile since they've lost a game. We're kind of in the same boat as they are as far as that goes. We're looking forward to the matchup. It's a big game, the conference championship. That's what you practice for all those days."

The game's x-factor may very well be Plano kicker Kevin Jernigan. The junior is 6-for-10 on field goals this year and an argument can be made has been the MVP of the team, which has won three games two, four and five points. He kicked three field goals in Plano's 9-7 victory over Reed-Custer in Week 3.

Jernigan is 3-for-3 from between 30 and 39 yards and 2-for-3 from between 40 and 49 yards. He has also attempted two field goals from beyond 50.

"He may be one of the best kickers I've seen in high school football," Onsen said. "He's very composed back there. He doesn't get rattled and it could be a huge factor in this ball game. Huge factor."

The reason Jernigan may get an opportunity to win the game is because while both teams love to run the football and control the clock, both defenses have been extremely stingy. Coal City has allowed an astounding 5.2 points per game and has pitched three straight shutouts. That total is only surpassed only by Plano's 3.0 points per game.

"I don't think it's going to be a 5 to 3 game," Green said. "It's going to be two teams that play outstanding defense. We just hope we can move the ball on them and put some points up on the board because we know our defense is going to be outstanding"

The Coalers offense has been the more prolific of the two, scoring 26.8 points per game behind the running of Noah Roseland. Onsen said what they do is no secret -- they'll hand the ball to Roseland quite a bit and mix in some passing from J.T. Blaine, who has thrown for five TDs and 512 yards.

But it's Roseland, who has rushed for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns, who is the key to the Coalers offense.

"It's no secret -- Noah Roseland is our go-to guy," Onsen said. "We're not coming in with some flashy offense. He's our go-to guy. We're not going to change that. He's our guy. We're not going to break that formula."

The Reapers will have to lean on their defense, as the offense averages 19.8 points per game. Three times this year they have been held to 13 points or fewer. The Reapers are led by running back Luis Alvarado, who has 475 yards and four touchdowns. And while fellow running backs Dan Iverson, Brian Day and Alec Haws haven't been spectacular, all three average over four yards per carry


Plano quarterback Brian Green is 22 of 41 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns, giving the Reapers an aerial option as well.

"I don't know if people got a little spoiled last year," Jim Green said. " Teams know what we're going to do. We just need to put a couple drives together and finish them. I just keep trying to tell people it's still a 'W' if you win by one or 101. These kids play to win the ballgame and that's what we're doing so far."

Gimme some good grub

October 5, 2007
By Beacon News Staff

Barry Pazin is under no obligation to cook your brats. He does it for the love of the grill.

Pazin, of Elburn, doesn’t have kids playing Kaneland High School football, but he shows up at the school’s concession stand hours before each home football nonetheless, prepared to fire up the coals as a member of a six-man crew.

Jim Gust of Elburn enjoys a pork chop sandwich in the stands at Kaneland High School during a recent Friday night football game

“I think it’s one of the best (concession stands) in the conference,” said Pazin, who has grilled next to the Kaneland gridiron for five years. “We get the pork chops, brats and hot dogs, which are all beef, from Ream’s Elburn Meat Market. We cook up 600 of each (for a home football game) and always get a lot of compliments.”

But is Kaneland the best when it comes to barbecue? The answer depends on who you ask.

During the opening weeks of the high school football season, we asked readers for their picks for best concession stand. We also polled fans in the stands at select home games. Find out below what people raved about.

Sandwich in Sandwich

Cindy Weismiller, in charge of the concession stand at Sandwich High School’s homecoming, said the featured item is the “Porky” sandwich. It’s a boneless, barbecued pork chop sandwich with the chops coming from Art’s Supermarket in town.

“It’s boneless and fits nicely in the bun,” said fan Rich Robinson. It’s just a nice, warm, well cooked pork chop sandwich.”

Plano’s chops

Greg Gould, in charge of the concession stand at Plano High School’s homecoming, said their feature item is the “Little Marketa Pork Chop Sandwich.” It’s a boneless pork chop sandwich with the chops coming from Little Marketa’s in town. The size of the sandwich is quite generous.

“Our’s is the best,” Gould said. “A lot of people from out of town tell us they have to get a pork chop sandwich when they come to Plano.”

“As a veteran of the concession stands in the area, this (pork chop sandwich) is second to none,” said John Chernick, Plano’s sophomore football coach.

Brats at ACC

“Approaching ACC’s concessions, smoke billowing from the grill, you take a deep sniff of the sweet aroma of a grilled brat,” writes Jean Hartman, an Aurora Central Catholic parent. “A delight to your eyes — plump and juicy from Ream’s in Elburn. With excitement you slather on your favorite condiments. Then, the truly expected pleasure...your first bite.”

More Kaneland raves

Bruce Krajewski of Sugar Grove: “My favorite one is Glenbard South. They have multiple grills going and have good hamburgers and hot dogs. Kaneland’s is right up there with them, though. And I’ve eaten at them all. The pork chop sandwich is my favorite here.”

Scott Hester of Sugar Grove: “I always get the pork chop sandwich. Having it grilled outside like this, you can’t beat it. It’s the best, especially with a little bit of barbecue sauce on it.”

An e-mail from Don and Barb Spence: “Our family truly LOVES the Kaneland brats! It isn’t a true football game if we have not enjoyed the taste of those brats!”

Another e-mail from Mari Johnson of Sugar Grove: “We have spent the past four years eating concession stand food for dinner on Friday Nights. The pork chop sandwiches prepared with finesse by the Kaneland Sports Boosters win, hands down. They start with fine, butterfly chops from Ream’s Market, grill them to perfection, then wrap them with care; delicious!”

Marmion’s on top

Fan Pete Bakala writes that Marmion Academy in Aurora has the best concession stand with Italian sausage and ribeye steak sandwiches from Greco Italian Foods, Eisenberg bratwurst and hot dogs, black Angus burgers and pizza from Mike & Denise’s in Aurora.

Plainfield dogs

Bill Nantz of Oswego, a professed Oswego East fan and “football concessions expert” called Plainfield South’s Cougar Dog “unique, customizable and huge.”
“You almost don’t need to taste it,” Nantz said. “It is so beautiful to look at — but taste it you must...grilled onions, chili and a hot dog will change your life.”