Features | Friday Night Drive

Herald-News Prep Football Notebook: Joliet Catholic’s longest active win streak ends

Wilmington now holds the title

Joliet Catholic’s run of having the state’s longest active win streak came to an end Friday with a 48-42 loss to Crete-Monee.

The streak ended at 24 games, including spotless seasons in fall 2021 with a state championship in Class 4A and a clean sheet in the spring 2021 season, a six-game schedule that had no playoffs.

The Hilltoppers last lost a game in 2019, when they were defeated by Mascoutah in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A playoffs, 21-14.

It also marked the first defeat of the Hilltoppers by a non-Chicago Catholic League team since early 2019, when IC Catholic bested Joliet Catholic 22-12 in Week 2.

The loss that snapped the streak came in a game that likely wouldn’t even have happened if not for a scheduling quirk in the CCL/ESCC slate. CCL/ESCC teams all played crossover games this week, excluding one team: Joliet Catholic.

When the schedule was released after the 2018 season, Orange Division teams were slated to crossover against Red Division Teams in Week 5. Joliet Catholic drew St. Joseph of Westchester that week. But St. Joe’s closed before the season and left the Hilltoppers with the choice of taking a forfeit win for the next two seasons, or scrambling to find a willing nonconference foe, which isn’t easy to do in Week 5 in any season.

But Crete-Monee had the same problem in the Southland Conference, and the Warriors who historically never shy away from challenges, signed on to fill the vacancy.

This schedule situation will be rectified next season when the CCL/ESCC realigns with 25 teams instead of 22. Marian Central Catholic also recently voluntarily left the league, while St. Francis, IC Catholic and Aurora Central Catholic will join the alliance next year.

Wilmington now owns the the state’s longest active win streak, claiming its 24th straight win by beating Herscher 56-20. Wilmington, like Joliet Catholic, won a state championship in 2021 with a spotless mark but by decision of the Illinois Central Eight Conference, the league played only five games in the spring season rather than six, leaving them one win short of the tally racked up by Joliet Catholic.

Wilmington’s last loss came in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Class 3A playoffs to Byron (32-0).

If Wilmington should falter, the longest current winning streak would fall to Lena-Winslow who currently is second on the list with 10 consecutive wins.

Zvonar sees bright future in Bolingbrook

After Lincoln-Way East’s 42-32 win over Bolingbrook on Friday all veteran coach Rob Zvonar could do was rue the future of what Bolingbrook could be.

That was largely because of the play of Bolingbrook’s freshman sensation quarterback Jonas Williams, who threw for about 400 yards and five touchdowns in the loss.

“I think the last one we saw like that would be Payton Thorne, [Naperville Central graduate and current starter at Michigan State],” Zvonar said. “He’s doing things now that Payton was doing as a senior.

“Our only hope is that he decides to go to IMG or something, maybe I’ll see if I can get him a brochure. I can’t imagine having to see that for three more years and those receivers are never going to graduate. One (I’Marion Stewart) and two (Kyon-Berry Johnson) we’ve seen them since they were freshman, and they have another year, too.”

Undefeated teams still heavily represented in Herald-News area

Only 54 schools in Illinois are undefeated after five weeks of play.

This is a considerably lower number than usual for this stage of the season.

But one area where that number is well represented is the 23-team Herald-News coverage area. Six teams: Lemont, Lincoln-Way East, Morris, Reed-Custer, Seneca and Wilmington make up 11% of the statewide contingent of undefeated teams.

Three of those six play fellow undefeated teams this week: Reed-Custer and Wilmington square off in Braidwood while Morris travels to Richmond-Burton for a Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight conference crossover.