HAMPSHIRE – It was not so much a football game as it was a celebration of accomplishment. The accomplishment of finishing a season that seemingly was in doubt every single day of every single week.
In the end, Hampshire made enough plays to defeat Crystal Lake Central, 33-21, in the Fox Valley Conference third-place game at Hampshire’s stadium. But both teams held long and very emotional post-game huddles to reflect on a season like no other.
“With all of the things these young men have faced, it’s just so impressive how they pulled together, how they did not let themselves get knocked down at every turn and how they stayed in it,” said Hampshire coach Jake Brosman, whose team finished 4-1. “We didn’t get much time in the weight room this year, but they found ways to work out. They found ways to stay together. Tonight is a testament to these young men.”
Central coach Jon McLaughlin, whose team finished 3-3, echoed Brosman’s thoughts on the resilience of his own team.
“It’s about all the battling we did this season. It’s been only one season, but in some ways it feels like 10 seasons,” McLaughlin said. “For us to be able to play six games shows we did enough of the right things to get us six games. I’m so proud of these kids right here.”
As for the game, Hampshire racked up 425 total yards – 267 rushing and 158 passing. Sophomore quarterback Ty Fikis accounted for 295 of those yards as he finished the night 8-for-10 passing with a touchdown. He also rushed 11 times for 137 yards, including scoring runs of 12 and 47 yards.
“Normally, we like to run the ball inside, the tighter stuff. So when we spread things out, it really opened up our offense,” Fikis said. “We have great receivers and they ran great routes. The O-line was amazing tonight. They made my job easy.”
One of those receivers was Jack Rummell, who finished the night with four receptions for 78 yards and the game’s opening touchdown. With the Whip-Purs clinging to a 26-21 lead late in the contest, Fikis found Rummell for a 26-yard completion on a third-and-22 play down to the Tiger 8. Robert Negron (12 rushes, 72 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night – a 4-yard run with 3:34 to play – to seal the win.
“It feels so great to win this game. To finish 4-1 for our seniors is incredible,” Rummell said. “We didn’t know coming into the season who our quarterback would be, but Ty stepped up and played great for us.”
Central compiled 305 total yards on the night. Quarterback Colton Madura was 12 for 26 for 215 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass to Charlie Fleming. Jake Coss rushed 22 times for 84 yards and one score, and defensive end Caleb Moszkiewicz scooped up a fumble and returned it 54 yards for a score.
And while it was a night for his team’s underclassmen to shine, Brosman couldn’t say enough about the Hampshire seniors.
“This was the first group that was eager to work with me on things outside of football,” he said. “They were the ones who taught the younger kids about having a selfless attitude. That’s their No. 1 strength: what they’re leaving behind in terms of attitude.”