That Ottawa quarterback Braiden Miller would have solid performances such as last Friday’s 15 of 22, 183-yard, one-touchdown, zero-interception showing against Sycamore was pretty much a given after his noticeable on-field development during the spring season.
Who the 6-5, 200-pound senior signal-caller would be completing those passes to, however, was a mystery with the receivers responsible for 93.3% of Ottawa’s spring receiving lost to graduation.
If the first four weeks of the season has solved any mysteries for the Pirates, it’s that the solution is Levi Sheehan.
The 5-8, 151-pound wideout hauled in seven of Miller’s completions Friday for 134 yards and the aforementioned touchdown, a 19-yarder on the Pirates’ final offensive play of the game.
“The kid played quarterback for us, and he really wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep playing football because he wanted to play quarterback and wasn’t sure what to do,” Ottawa coach Chad Gross said. “I said, ‘Hey, come on out, there are a lot of catches to be had, we’re graduating a lot of kids,’ and he’s accepted that role and embraced it.
“He makes plays and really plays bigger than he is. He’s not a real big guy, but he plays big out there, making catches and blocking in the run game.
“I’m very pleased with where he’s been.”
Sheehan has 25 receptions for 413 yards heading into Ottawa’s Week 5 visit to Woodstock North.
– J.T. Pedelty
First defeat leaves Streator searching for 2 wins
Streator’s first loss of the season Friday night in Lisle certainly didn’t ruin the Bulldogs’ chances of the playoff berth that the team has been working toward.
It does, however, make Streator’s path to the postseason a little more difficult.
The Bulldogs (3-1) will host Manteno (0-4) on Friday, looking for win No. 4, and if they get it they will need to find that all-important fifth victory for playoff qualification somewhere in their final four games – at Peotone (3-1), home against Reed-Custer (4-0), at Wilmington (4-0) or in the season finale at Coal City (2-2).
Streator last made the playoffs in 2017 and has one postseason victory in program history, that coming in 2008 over Normal U-High.
– J.T. Pedelty
Seneca’s power-T powering up?
The Seneca offense has increased its point total week-to-week in every game this season.
The Irish followed up a rough six-point opener against Westville with 21 points against Hoopeston Area-Armstrong, 28 in Week 3 versus Salt Ford and last Friday’s 63-point, balanced attack featuring six players – Brock Moore, Asher Hamby, Zack Sulzberger, Dominic Griffin, Nathan Grant and Collin Wright – all scoring touchdowns in the team’s first win of the season.
The 63 points against Georgetown-Ridge Farm was the most in Seneca history, breaking the record of 55 set against Westmont in 2016 and tied in a 2018 victory over Momence.
– Brian Hoxsey
Crusaders go younger out of necessity
Although Marquette’s 47-22 decision at Heyworth on Friday was a resounding win, there was a less obvious, moral victory that didn’t appear in the boxscore: no injuries.
The Crusaders already are down four two-way starters in juniors TE/LB Ethan Price, FB-LB Vinny Battestelli and WR/DB Caden Eller, as well as sophomore FB/LB Pete McGrath, but escaped their third win in four games with no new significant injuries.
With twins Beau and Brady Ewers and new addition Nathan Kuykendall the team’s only seniors, several younger underclassmen – among them sure-handed sophomore TE/DE Charlie Mullen, hard-running soph FB/DB Jacob Smith and speedy freshman HB/LB Julian Alexander – have stepped up admirably.
While the walking wounded will be returning in the coming weeks, the youngsters will continue to be counted on in Friday’s return to Gould Stadium to face Chicago Hope Academy.
– Charlie Ellerbrock
Another experienced eight-man powerhouse for FCW
After opening with three straight games against relative newcomers to eight-man football, Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland, which joined the Illinois Eight-Man Football Association in 2019, will play its second straight more-experienced eight-man team this Friday at Woodland when it hosts defending state champion Polo.
FCW’s first three opponents – West Central, Peoria Heights and South Beloit – all joined the I8FA last school year, with this being their first full season in the growing league.
Milford-Cissna Park, which the Falcons defeated, 34-28, last Friday, was the 2018 eight-man state champion. Polo won the title in 2019.
– J.T. Pedelty
Durdan continues to shine for Marquette
Another stellar night from junior halfback Tom Durdan – 12 carries for 116 yards and three TDs, three catches for 35 yards and one TD, plus an interception on defense – could have been a little better, as he had two more carries for about 35 yards negated by penalties.
He has a team-best 78 points scored, and seven catches for 159 yards and three TDs receiving this season, and is second to classmate Jurnee Reed (52-356-4 TDs) with 36-347-8 on the ground.
– Charlie Ellerbrock