Illinois High School Football News

NIU recruit Jacob Welch, Johnsburg get their revenge on Plano

Skyhawks beat Reapers 40-20

Johnsburg running back Jake Metze (1) runs past the diving attempt of Plano defender Aydan Olson (27) during Friday's game in Plano.

PLANO – Jacob Welch remembered last year’s Homecoming game.

So did his Johnsburg teammates.

Playing for revenge during Plano’s Homecoming game on Friday night, the NIU recruit and the rest of the Skyhawks got even with the Reapers in a 40-20 victory.

“Last year we played Plano for our Homecoming and lost by one, 27-26, so this whole week we were really focused on that revenge part,” Welch said. “Our starting defense didn’t let them score. Our offense kept moving and moving. It was a super awesome win. Now we’re (3-3, 1-2) and in a good spot so we’re super excited.”

Plano (2-4, 0-2) definitely was super excited at the start, feeding off the big crowd that went into a frenzy after Thomas Harding returned a punt on Johnsburg’s game opening drive for a 56-yard score. Unfortunately for the Reapers, they didn’t have much more to get excited about.

“They’re a good team that’s kind of found it,” Plano coach Rick Ponx said. “They’ve completely changed their defense from the first four weeks of the season. They were successful with it last week and we saw they were successful with it this week. They played hard. They’re a big strong team. That big kid (Welch) going to NIU is a load. He was a dominating force and played aggressively, and once we got on our heels a bit we couldn’t get traction.”

Waleed Johnson barreled over the Johnsburg defense for a 13-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to tie the game at 14-14.

Johnsburg took a 20-14 lead into halftime after a 2-yard scoring run from Jake Metze.

‘We knew this was a big one because we have our eyes on the playoffs,” Metze said. “The O-line was able to control the line of scrimmage and that opened up lanes the whole night for me to go. We’ve been putting up points this whole season and knew we had to keep going and doing our thing on offense and the defense would come around.”

Plano quarterback Armando Martinez (1) eludes a Johnsburg defender during Friday's game in Plano.

Converting fourth downs proved to be huge for the Skyhawks while plaguing the Reapers who finally denied them after yielding four in a row.

“We needed to convert and put a lot of faith, honestly, in our guys up front on fourth and shorts in doing a great job of getting a push and reestablishing the line of scrimmage,” Johnsburg coach Sam Lesniak said. “And there was a (4-yard one) that (quarterback Anthony Bravieri) connected withJake (Metze) so that was a big-time play and then there was that curl to Cade Piggott as well. So we’ve got some playmakers that battle so we have a lot of faith in them and give them a chance to be successful.”

Ian Boal is one of them and he made one of the better catches you’ll ever see and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown pass from Bravieri. The 6-foot,165-pound senior receiver had to slow his route to turn back and reach over a defender to haul it in. It was the highlight on a night of many of them for theSkyhawks.

“He’s incredible at a go-up-and-get football and 50/50 balls,”Lesniak said. “I think he caught it right off the kid’s helmet. He went up over the kid and caught it. He can leap. He’s a big kid, fast and super aggressive.”

Johnson gave the Reapers their first and only points of the second half with a 36-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining.

“They were keying on Waleed (Johnson), everybody is,” Ponx said. “A week ago we were able to throw the ball a little bit better. This week, not so much.”

The Reapers got the ball to open the second half, but a bad snap crushed the drive and the Skyhawks responded with Metze’s 1-yard touchdown run with 5:05 left in the third quarter to make it 26-14.

After a quick three-and-out by the Reapers, Bravieri connected with Boal thanks to his super catch and the Skyhawks were in complete control at 34-14 late with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter.