CRYSTAL LAKE – Trust. Belief. Call it what you will.
McHenry had it Friday night and parlayed its offensive cohesiveness into a monstrous 536-yard effort, holding off Crystal Lake South, 48-37, in a Fox Valley Conference shootout at Ken Bruhn Field.
The Warriors (2-2) got huge performances from a variety of players. Junior running back Brody Hallin rushed 25 times for 249 yards and two touchdowns, while senior wideout Matt Gallimore caught four passes for 134 yards and three TDs. But it was Gallimore’s third scoring catch of the night with 52 seconds left that finally sealed the verdict.
“Teams generally key on (fellow wide receiver) Adam (Benton) so that left me open a lot tonight,” Gallimore said. “The team trusted me, my quarterback trusted me and we all just believed in each other that we’d get the job done.”
Hallin ripped off huge chunks of yardage on a combination of jet sweep handoffs and dive plays. He scored on runs of 45 and 14 yards and seemed to get stronger as the game wore on.
“I’ve always had a pretty good gas tank and I can find that second gear late in the game,” Hallin said. “In our first few games, I personally struggled to find the holes the offensive line was making for me. Tonight, it all just came together.”
That offensive line – juniors Dylan Hogan and Luke Zunkel, sophomore Eli Nothdorf, and seniors Zach Babincsak and Ryan Koczor – drew praise from not only their star running back but also from their head coach.
“Those kids on the offensive line stepped up tonight,” McHenry coach Jon Niemiec said. “They made great blocks, they trusted and believed in each other. We’ve won two games in a row now against two quality opponents and it’s a credit to those guys up front.”
South actually jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead and a 24-20 advantage at halftime. Quarterback Justin Kowalak (24 for 37, 298 yards) found Michael Prokos for an early TD and Kowalak later added scoring runs of 3 and 5 yards. Sophomore Nate Van Witzenburg had a solid performance, carrying 23 times for 139 yards, including touchdown runs of 21 and 12 yards in the second quarter.
Mason Gureczny (11 carries, 101 yards) scored on a 20-yard run to open the third-quarter scoring before Kowalak answered with his first TD. McHenry quarterback Andrew Hoffman (6 for 11, 141 yards, three TDs) countered with an 11-yard scoring run to make it 34-31. Hallin then added a 14-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 41-31.
Kowalak again answered before Gallimore’s final TD in the right corner of the end zone gave the Warriors an insurmountable lead.
“It came down to who would make the last defensive stand, and unfortunately we could not make it there in the end,” South coach Rob Fontana said. “(Hallin) is a tough kid, a wrestler, and he’s got the wrestler mindset. It was like a great heavyweight fight. They’d punch, and we’d punch back. It was a great high school football game.”
South actually jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead and a 24-20 advantage at halftime. Quarterback Justin Kowalak (24 for 37, 298 yards) found Michael Prokos for an early TD and Kowalak later added scoring runs of 3 and 5 yards.
Sophomore Nate Van Witzenburg had a solid performance, carrying 23 times for 139 yards, including touchdown runs of 21 and 12 yards in the second quarter. Senior wideout Brock Jewson caught 11 passes for 182 yards.