HUNTLEY — Rarely is the opening kickoff the pivotal play in the game.
Friday in Huntley it was.
Taking Hampshire’s kick at his own 22, Alexander Janke went untouched 78 yards for a score. Only 11 seconds had elapsed and Huntley held a 7-0 advantage.
Janke, who returned the opening kick for a touchdown against Hampshire last season, also had a 3-yard rushing touchdown to propel Huntley to a 48-18 win over the Whip-Purs in Fox Valley Conference action.
Huntley (5-0) will play for the FVC championship next Friday.
Janke credits special teams coach Gibson Danekas for his success on returns.
“He is a great coach,” Janke said. “We work on special teams a lot. Tonight we executed perfectly and I wasn’t even touched.”
Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak knows special teams is an important phase.
“Offense, defense and special teams are all important,” Zimolzak said. “Alexander set the tone for the game with the opening kickoff return.”
Huntley also got a 75-yard kickoff return TD from Edward Wall with 1:15 left in the game.
The Red Raiders fed off the opening return and scored two more times in the first quarter. Janke scored on a rushing TD while Ryder Hunkins reached pay dirt from 4 yards out as the Red Raiders led 19-0 after 12 minutes.
The Whip Purs (3-1) scored their first TD with 46 seconds left in the first half when Tyler Fikis connected with Jack Rummel for a 20-yard TD. The 2-point pass failed and Huntley’s lead was cut to 19-6.
The Red Raiders bounced back to score before intermission. Bruno Bosman tossed a 4-yard TD to Carter Knutsen with 9 ticks left. Knutsen’s 52-yard reception set up the TD. Bosman ran for the 2-point conversion and the Red Raiders held a 27-6 advantage at the break.
Bosman, a senior in his second season as the Red Raiders signal caller, ran 20 times for 113 yards including TD runs of 3 and 9 yards.
The Huntley senior completed 8-of-17 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown pass.
Knutsen caught five passes for 97 yards while Alex Denniston snared two passes for 83 yards.
Fikis completed 10-of-20 passes for 192 yards, an interception and a TD.
Rummell, who caught a TD, grabbed four passes for 85 yards. Alexander Corbett caught four passes for 94 yards.
Hampshire’s defense also scored as Jake Wilcox reached the end zone on a 25-yard fumble return. Zach Vodraska intercepted a Bosman pass.
“Huntley is a great team.” said Hampshire coach Jake Brosman. “They are so explosive. They have great team speed and they shocked us early with their speed.”