Illinois High School Football News

Forreston rolls over Chicago Hope in 1A playoff win

Forreston's Johnathen Kobler powers his way into the end zone as Quinten Frederick gives the touchdown signal during the Cardinals' 44-16 playoff win over Chicago Hope Academy on Saturday, Nov. 5.

FORRESTON – After Johnny Kobler broke four tackles on an extra-point conversion run that gave Forreston a 24-8 lead in a 1A second-round playoff game, a Chicago Hope Academy coach could be heard yelling to his defense, “We’re getting run over and pushed around.”

That how it was all afternoon with the more physical Cardinals.

Kobler, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound running back, scored three touchdowns and gained 182 yards on 26 carries to lead his team to a 44-16 over previously unbeaten Hope. It also set up rematch with Dakota (7-4) in the quarterfinals, a team that upset the Cardinals 34-28 on a last-minute touchdown in Week 4.

“We gave that game away, but Dakota knows they can compete with us,” Forreston coach Keynon Janicke said.

In a nod to NUIC supremacy, No. 1 Lena-Winslow and Fulton meet in the other northern-bracket quarterfinal. All four league schools had decisive wins, but no more than Forreston (7-4) against an athletic Hope Academy team, which came into the game with a gaudy regular-season résumé, an interior defensive line that averaged 300 pounds, and a Division-I receiver in Judah Mallette.

The Cardinal defense did not allow Mallette to catch a ball until the fourth quarter, and held QB Eddie Jenkins to only eight completions in 40 attempts.

Forreston's Brock Smith dives for yards during 1A playoff action against Chicago Hope Academy on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“If you would have told me No. 1 [Mallette] wouldn’t have a catch until the fourth quarter, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Janicke said. “I thought we really contained the quarterback, too.”

The Cardinal defense was geared more to keep Jenkins from getting outside than they were of sacking him. Often, he had plenty of time to throw, but nowhere to run and nobody open.

On the other side of the ball, the Forreston offensive line of Andrew Wells, Casey DeVries, Grant Johnson, Drew Dieterman, Alex Milnes, Ethan Bocker and Colin Kuhn opened large holes against that massive Hope front to the tune of 347 yards rushing.

“They’re doing all the dirty work and don’t get the credit,” Janicke said.

Kuhn, who had a key 3-yard tackle for loss just before a Kaleb Sanders interception in the second quarter, was filling in for Kyler Ganz, who was out with a concussion.

The Cardinals took an early 16-0 lead on a pair of Kobler touchdowns. It was short fields both times, as Hope (10-1) botched an onside kick attempt to start the game, and then had a four-and-out on its next possession.

In the second quarter, Hope pulled within 16-8 on a touchdown set up by a desperation pass against the wind on fourth down.

“They had some playmakers,” Janicke said.

Forreston's Alex Milnes celebrates with his teammates after their 44-16 playoff win over Chicago Hope Acaademy on Saturday, Nov. 5.

McKeon Crase ripped off a 33-yard touchdown run to make it 24-8. Two plays later on defense, he followed that up with an open-field tackle of Jenkins for no gain.

That would be all the scoring in the first half, even though Forreston had four possessions in a wild final four minutes. Kobler fumbled the ball away twice, the second on a strip after a 40-yard run. In between was Forreston’s only punt of the game.

“The only thing that will stop us is ourselves,” said Janicke at halftime.

Hope did drive into the red zone, but it was Quinten Frederick knocking down a fourth-down pass attempt, though he appeared to have an open field ahead of him had he chosen to intercept it instead.

With the rain, wind and cold picking up in the third quarter, the Cardinals weren’t fazed a bit. Sanders scored his 11th rushing TD of the season on the first possession after the break.

“Our kids embraced the weather. We experienced rain on Friday,” Janicke said.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, it was Sanders with a 19-yard touchdown for a 36-8 lead. Kobler closed out the scoring for the final margin.

Forreston's Kaleb Sanders runs ahead of Chicago Hope Academy defenders en route to the end zone during 1A playoff action in Forreston on Saturday, Nov. 5. The Cardinals won the game 44-16 to advance to quarterfinals against Dakota.
Forreston's Johnathen Kobler battles for yards during the Cardinals' 44-16 playoff win over Chicago Hope Academy on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Members of the Cardinals' football team celebrate their 44-16 playoff win on Nov.5 by sliding on the muddy field after shaking hands with Chicago Hope Academy.