SYCAMORE – Kiefer Tarnoki had a sack and an interception in his first game action in three weeks as the Sycamore football team knocked of Woodstock, 50-0, for the school-record 116th win in coach Joe Ryan’s career.
“I’ve been itching to get back in since a week ago,” Tarnoki said. “I was antsy and adrenaline and stuff like that, but all in all it was just great. That’s all I can say. It was great to be back.”
The Spartans (6-2 overall, 5-0 Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White) scored on all seven drives of the game, including with the backups in during the second half with the running clock in effect. Jack Wright came away with an interception of Liam Mickle as time expired, preserving the shutout in Ryan’s historic win.
He moved past Pete Johnson, who coached the team to 115 wins between 1951 and 1967. Johnson died eight days before the start of the season at age 98.
“It means a lot because I spent a lot of time with coach Johnson,” Ryan said. “I wish he were still here and we could share it together. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of great kids have come through. A lot of great coaches. I’m kind of speechless a little bit. It just means a lot Pete and I got to spend a lot of time together. I was just hoping we could do this together, it just didn’t work out that way.”
Tarnoki said it was awesome to be a part of Ryan’s milestone.
“As a team we’ve fought so hard to be where we’re at right now,” Tarnoki said. “It’s good to add that to our resume. And congratulations to coach Ryan. He earned it. He’s an amazing coach.”
Tarnoki’s interception came at the end of a 59-yard drive for the Blue Streaks, their longest of the first half. That set the Spartans up at their own 10.
“I was kind of 4 yards off and I let him in, but it went through his hands and I was right there,” Tarnoki said. “Right place, right time.”
Woodstock coach Mike Brasile said that Sycamore wasn’t giving up a lot of big plays - the Blue Streaks (3-5, 1-4) had 100 yards of offense against the Sycamore starters in the first half and finished the game with 228 yards.
“We executed that well that drive, but the thing is we have to put 15, 16 plays together against a team like that that’s keeping everything in front of them,” Brasile said. “You’re bound to make a mistake in high school at times.”
Eli Meier found Jake O’Donnell for a 52-yard touchdown pass, with O’Donnell barreling through three defenders to finish off the last 15 yards of the play. Sycamore went ahead 28-0 with 8 minutes left in the half.
Two possessions later and the Spartans up 35-0, Jackson Funderburg sacked Liam Mickle, then on the next play Tarnoki took him down for a 10-yard loss on third down.
“We were kind of missing that guy off the edge,” Ryan said. “I thought Diego [Garcia] and Jake did a nice job filling in, but there’s a reason Kiefer has been in that spot the last two years for us.”
On the ensuing punt, Kayden Galto took it 52 yards to the house and a 42-0 lead for Sycamore just before the half.
Each of the three main backs for the Spartans scored a first-quarter touchdown. Nathaniel Altepeter led all the Sycamore backs with 57 yards as Sycamore finished with 258 yards on the ground and 145 in the air.
“Our kids I thought played hard, and they have a great program,” Brasile said. “They’ve been doing things very, very well over here for a long time. ... It’s a great program, and coach Ryan has had so much success over his tenure. He’s had the same coaching staff that’s been together for, gosh 15, 16 years now. And we’ve got a staff that’s been together four years. We hope to be up there with their program as well.”
Brasile said he’s hopeful before the Blue Streaks close the year against Woodstock North next week.
“We were a little overmatched and that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Brasile said. “We got our crosstown rival next week, we’ll get up for that game and it’s really a nice way to finish off the season, hopefully with a win against them.”