Carter Ryan is back on the field.
The Sterling senior has missed the past four Golden Warriors games, the last two in the spring when he was in COVID quarantine and the first two of the fall with a foot injury.
But he came back onto the field in a big way in the Warriors’ Week 3 win over Galesburg. The first time he touched the ball, on the third play of the game, it went for a 36-yard touchdown pass.
In the second half, he chipped in with an interception on one side of the ball and made a toe-tapping catch on the sideline for a first down on the other side, extending a drive which eventually ended in a Sterling touchdown.
“He’s good, and if you look at the kid just walking around you wouldn’t think much, but he’s a competitor,” Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. “We talked before the game and I think he was just in shock. ... He’s a special player. He’s a competitor. Goofy as all heck, but the kid loves to play.”
Ryan finished with six catches for 91 yards.
Bounce-back loss?: Amboy fell to 1-2 on the season after Friday night’s 36-28 loss to undefeated Polo, but a strong start to the second half left the Clippers feeling pretty good about themselves despite the loss.
Trailing 30-16 at halftime after Polo scored on four of its five first-half possessions, Amboy got stops on the Marcos’ first two drives of the second half and scored a pair of touchdowns on its own possessions to get within 30-28.
Even though Polo answered with a 15-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that ate up 8:28 off the clock and all but sealed its victory, the Clippers played the second half with a renewed confidence that they hope to carry over into their next game, when they welcome top-ranked West Central to The Harbor on Friday night.
“This 100% sparked our season right here,” Amboy quarterback Tucker Lindenmeyer said. “We’ve got the No. 1 team coming here next, and we’re going to be ready to play hard and show what we’ve got.”
Bounce-back win: The first two weeks for Erie-Prophetstown saw close games that ultimately turned into a pair of losses for the Panthers, dropping a 24-14 decision to Mendota and falling on a last-second field goal 15-13 to St. Bede.
Week 3 left no doubt, with three first-quarter scores in a 55-0 rout of Sherrard.
“I think the guys wanted to come out and show that they’ve put in the work and this is something that they are capable of,” Panthers coach Jesse Abbott said. “They really felt pretty down, especially [Week 2] when they played pretty well, especially defensively, and wanted to come out here and get back on the right track. They did a good job of playing hard from the get-go.”
Conference battles in the trenches: Teams in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference like to deliver a hard, quick pop on the front line – something first-year league member Fulton experienced on Friday night in a 38-24 home loss to Du-Pec.
Fulton coach Patrick Lower is confident his team – which won its first two games and is on a trajectory for a playoff spot – will learn and adjust.
“We will regroup,” Lower said. “We’ve got a resilient bunch.”
The road ahead looks like this: On Saturday, Fulton has a nonconference road encounter against 1-2 Madison. On Sept. 24, the team is home against unbeaten Lena-Winslow. In October, Fulton visits Stockton, is home against Forreston, plays at Eastland-Pearl City, and then closes at home against Dakota.
“We have to be as physical as possible,” said Lower. “It’s going to be just as physical, if not more physical, in the upcoming weeks. If we can match the physicality of these other teams, I like our chances. I like what we do. We just have to do it a little better.”
In the second half against Du-Pec, Fulton did not fade. Quarterback Patrick Lower, the coach’s son, completed a 62-yard pass play that Baylen Damhoff carried in for a touchdown in the third quarter. Then in the fourth, Fulton assembled a scoring drive from its own 33 in which Lower had completions to tight end Ethan Price and Brock Mason before Keegan VanKampen carried it over from the 1.
Coach Lower was complimentary of his namesake.
“That last drive was good for him and our guys,” Lower said, “to get down there and score and end on a high note.”
Both drives took place with the quarterback under persistent pressure. Du-Pec lineman Briaun Green kept punching through and was relentless with his pursuit of Lower for much of the second half.
Although the Fulton passer was intercepted once, he ended the night 14-for-23 with 177 yards.
“Patrick did a nice job of finding guys downfield when the play would kind of break down a little bit,” the coach said. “Kept the play alive. He tucked and ran a couple of times, so he didn’t throw into traffic. He’s a smart player. I thought he did a nice job.”