HAMPSHIRE – Crystal Lake Central junior defensive end Tony Morales and his teammates wreaked havoc in the Hampshire backfield Friday night.
Central tallied seven sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception, as the visiting Tigers pitched a 7-0 Fox Valley Conference shutout over the Whip-Purs.
Morales had four of those sacks. But it was his fumble recovery midway through the third quarter, in a scoreless game, that was the catalyst for the game’s only touchdown.
The fumble recovery gave the Tigers (1-3, 1-3 FVC) the ball at the Whip-Purs 42-yard line.
Five plays later, Tigers quarterback George Dimopoulos rolled out to his right, then scrambled just inside the right pylon for a 6-yard TD run.
After the game, Morales reflected on his effort, which he admitted was the best of his varsity career.
“Just an amazing feeling to have the kind of night I did,” Morales said. “I did it for my boys and hopefully I get to do it again.”
Teammates Jack Blum, Tommy McNeil and Leonardo Diaz each had one sack, as well.
Diaz’s sack on fourth-and-7 at the Hampshire 15, with under a minute to play, ended any hopes of a late rally for the Whip-Purs (0-4, 0-4).
“It was a relief to see our offense go out there and take a knee to end things, " Diaz said. “We worked so hard during the week for this.”
Perhaps equally impressive was the job the Tigers did against Hampshire running back Cole Klawikowski, who entered the game with a Northwest Herald area-best 744 rushing yards in three games.
The Tigers held him to nine carries for 33 yards during the first half, although Klawikowski finished with 20 carries for 85 yards.
Hampshire was held to just 111 total yards as a team, with only three gains of 10 or more yards.
It was also the first career win for first-year Central coach Dirk Stanger.
“One thing we really noticed when we watched film of [Klawikowski] was all the extra yardage he gains after the initial contact,” Stanger said.“I thought our guys did an outstanding job of tackling tonight and couldn’t be more proud of their collective effort. We just shut them down.”
Hampshire coach Jake Brosman, meanwhile, encouraged his players to remain positive in his team’s postgame huddle.
He reminded them they held Central to just seven points and forced five punts and a turnover on downs.
The Whips also got a late fourth-quarter interception near midfield from senior defensive back Dillon Glinski, but the drive couldn’t produce points, despite the excellent field position.
“This was a typical Fox Valley Conference battle,” Brosman said. “We knew coming in that it would be this sort of a physical matchup.
“But we’ve just gotta keep our spirits up. As long as we learn from our mistakes, we can continue growing individually and as a team. We’re gonna do our best to keep working hard to make that happen. I look forward to watching film of this game and seeing what we did and didn’t do well individually.”