McHenry County notes: Crystal Lake Central improves its shot at playing for FVC title

Crystal Lake Central’s 14-13 overtime victory over Prairie Ridge on Thursday night shocked a lot of people, both around the Fox Valley Conference and the state.

But not the guys in the black jerseys that night.

Central was ready for this one. The Tigers felt like it was their turn.

The deep, experienced Central defense did a remarkable job, holding the Wolves to 142 total yards. Prairie Ridge is capable of putting that up in one quarter.

The Wolves scored just 1:42 into the game and managed only three first downs after that.

“As long as we play defense like this, we can play with anybody,” Tigers coach Jon McLaughlin said. “Obviously, they’re the No. 2-ranked team in the state (The Associated Press Class 6A poll), they’ve had a tremendous amount of success over there. Coach (Chris) Schremp and that program, they’re like what you aim for. Not that we’re shabby. Them and Cary-Grove and Huntley have set the gold standard (in the FVC).

“This is a team with a lot of kids returning. It’s unfortunate there isn’t a state playoff this year, this is a team that can go a long way.”

It was Central’s first win against Prairie Ridge since a 7-3 triumph in 2012. It was the first time an FVC team other than C-G or Huntley beat the Wolves since Grayslake North beat them, 47-27, in 2014.

The victory lines up Central (3-0, 2-0 in its FVC division) for a shot at the FVC championship. The Tigers can advance to that game with wins over McHenry and C-G in the last two weeks.

“This means everything to us,” running back-kicker Jake Coss said. “We’ve been beaten by this team too many times. This was just a great win.”

Different look: Central also won the game without the services of offensive coordinator Dirk Stanger, who was on a family vacation. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty of the football season and schedule, some players also missed games this week.

McLaughlin took over play-calling duties in Stanger’s absence.

“I haven’t called the offense for five years,” McLaughlin said. “All week long, in the huddle if I screwed something up they were correcting me. They took ownership with Dirk not being here.”

McLaughlin is thrilled that Stanger will be back this week.

“We get down inside the 10-yard line and I don’t have command of the offense the way Dirk does,” McLaughlin said. “I’m sure there were comeback routes we could be running there. We really hadn’t practiced them during the week and it was what I was comfortable calling.”

Streaking along: Hampshire had lost 24 games in a row heading into Week 8 of the 2019 season, but look at the Whip-Purs now. They won their last two games of 2019 and are 2-0 this spring.

Hampshire (2-0) has put itself in the picture for a Week 5 game at Huntley (3-0) that could decide which team goes to the FVC championship game in Week 6.

“The players have been extremely dedicated during the long offseason and have put in a ton of work,” said Whips coach Jake Brosman, in his third season at Hampshire. “They have been determined to have success and it is transferring over to the field.

“The entire program is very energetic and excited to put all of the hard work they have done onto the field. Every week is meaningful and we want to put the best football team on the field that we can against every opponent.”

Other streaks: Crystal Lake South wide receiver Brock Jewson caught two touchdown passes in Saturday’s 37-0 victory at Chicago Taft, giving him a scoring catch in every game so far.

Woodstock North’s Cole Brey has a two-game streak of returning a kickoff for a touchdown. In Week 2, he had a touchdown return kickoff after Harvard’s Austin Kohley started the game with one.

On Friday, Brey ran another kickoff back for a touchdown in the Thunder’s 30-16 win against Johnsburg.

Joe Stevenson

I have worked at the Northwest Herald since January of 1989, covering everything from high school to professional sports. I mainly cover high school sports now.