Illinois High School Football News

Northwest Herald area notes: Marengo QB Josh Holst commits to Northern Illinois

Marengo quarterback Joshua Holst tosses the ball against Johnsburg during football Friday night in Marengo.

Marengo quarterback Josh Holst established a strong rapport with Northern Illinois University’s coaching staff over the past two years.

Holst considers himself a Huskies fan, having attended games there since he played junior tackle football.

And now, Holst will become a Huskie.

Holst, who threw for 4,928 yards and 61 touchdowns over his high school career, announced his commitment to NIU on Twitter Monday afternoon. He actually told Huskies coach Thomas Hammock’s staff Saturday. Holst will be a preferred walk-on.

“COMMITTED! Very blessed to be given this opportunity!” Holst tweeted, along with a message thanking his coaches and trainers, as well as his picture in a Northern uniform No. 8 and a helmet.

“I think I knew NIU was going to happen for a while,” Holst said. “We’ve been talking for almost two years. Talking with the coaches, and it seemed like something was going to happen. It was NIU or Winona State. If NIU didn’t want me, I probably would have gone to Winona State.

“I really liked it all. Coach Hammock seemed like he’s a great coach. I was in the locker room after a tough loss and he said, ‘It’s on me,’ even though I don’t think it was. He took it very well. I like all the coaches. They’re super honest and they’ll tell you anything. Throughout this whole process they were super honest with me.”

Holst enjoyed speaking with offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness since the summer of 2021, before his junior season. Holst became Marengo’s starting quarterback in the last few games of his freshman season, which included a playoff victory. He is one of two quarterbacks in this year’s Huskies’ recruiting class.

Holst (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) threw for 2,005 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021, and threw for 1,574 yards with 24 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

A dangerous dual-threat quarterback, Holst rushed for 744 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and averaged 9.9 yards a carry. He also qualified for the IHSA Boys Track and Field State Meet last year in the Class 2A 100 meters.

“I think he can play at that level,” Marengo coach Paul Forsythe said. “It’s kind of a weird time with recruiting because there are still guys who are six-year guys (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) and with the transfer portal, it’s nuts. It’s just creating more issues with recruiting. You’re going to see that more and more.

“He accounted for 82 touchdowns for us in his career (61 passing, 21 rushing). That’s like video-game numbers.”

Holst has worked out with quarterbacks coach Greg Holcomb at Next Level in Carol Stream for three years.

“It’s been my dream since I was a kid to get that D-I scholarship,” Holst said. “It’s what I’ve been working for. Doing whatever I could to play at the Division I level. I’m grateful for everything I have, everyone who’s helped me.”

Harlem's Jahmani Muhammad is tackled by Prairie Ridge's Dominic Creatore at the Class 6A Quarter Finals on Saturday, Nov. 12,2022 in Machesney Park.

Making strides: Prairie Ridge has shown huge defensive improvement since holding off Crystal Lake South 63-55 in their Class 6A playoff opener.

The Wolves’ defense has surrendered 50 points combined over their past two games, something that pleases coach Chris Schremp.

“I thought we did a nice job overall of stopping their athletes on offense,” Schremp said after Saturday night’s 69-28 quarterfinal win over Harlem. “No. 21 [running back Jahmani Muhammad] is really fast, he’s a really tough kid and hard to tackle. We knew he was going to make some plays, but for the most part we kept him in check.

“We’re showing that we’re tackling better. I think we’re playing with a little more confidence on defense.”

Prairie Ridge beat Kaneland 57-22 in the second round.

Senior linebacker Ryan Koelblinger felt the Wolves set a good defensive tone early.

“The first half I thought we played really well,” Koelblinger said. “Every team is going to be able to move the ball a bit. We just have to stop them in those big moments, and we did that well tonight, so I was very proud of us.”

Record setter: Wolves quarterback Tyler Vasey ran for 481 yards and eight touchdowns in the win over Harlem, pushing the state season rushing record to 3,609 yards. He passed Lexington’s T.J. Stinde, who set the mark at 3,325 in 2009, in the second quarter.

But for all of Vasey’s long runs with his blazing speed, Schremp picked another play as his favorite of that game.

“[Vasey] ran over No. 8 [defensive back DeAndre Young], who is a really great player,” Schremp said. “That’s when you see how driven he is to make things happen. It was our counter play that we run, and [Harlem] played it well, but he ran that kid over, and that’s a really good defensive player.

“Seeing him lowering his shoulder and running guys over is awesome. Him running away from people, we’re kind of used to seeing that, but to see him lower his shoulder and run through tackles, that’s awesome.”

A homecoming: When St. Ignatius visits Prairie Ridge at 2 p.m. Saturday in the semifinal, 2017 Prairie Ridge graduate Grant Golata will be on the Wolfpack’s sideline as an assistant coach.

Golata was a starting offensive lineman on Prairie Ridge’s 2016 state championship team. He was listed at 5-foot-9, 218 pounds.

Richmond-Burton's Joe Miller throws a pass during the 3rd round IHSA Class 4A playoff game against Providence Catholic Saturday Nov. 12, 2022 at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox

Another great R-B run: Richmond-Burton quarterback Joe Miller put things into perspective nicely after the Rockets fell to Providence 31-14 in their Class 4A quarterfinal Saturday.

It ended R-B’s string of semifinal appearances at three, as the Rockets finished at 11-1. R-B has won 43 of its past 45 games.

“It [stinks] losing here, but we couldn’t ask for anything else,” Miller said. “A lot of teams can’t say they’re 11-1 and in the quarterfinals and semifinals for the last few years and have the success we’ve had.

“It’s an amazing life experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. To be a part of this program and have these people around me is something special.”

R-B defeated Normal West 33-26, and the Wildcats were ranked in Class 6A. They drilled Morris 31-7 when it was ranked No. 1 in Class 5A. Morris (10-2) will play Peoria (11-1) in a 5A semifinal Saturday.

“It’s been a blessing,” Rockets wide receiver-linebacker Zach Smith said. “This is my seventh year of football, and I’ve been playing with these guys for seven years. The bond I’ve built with these guys is forever. We will be friends forever. It’s been unimaginably great.”

Different next year: R-B coach Mike Noll, whose teams are 54-4 in his five seasons at the helm, felt his team again accomplished a lot for the season.

Noll looks forward to next year and beyond when some of the private school teams – such as Providence, Joliet Catholic and St. Francis, who are in the northern half of Class 4A – again will receive the IHSA’s enrollment multiplier of 1.65. That will push those schools back into 5A.

“It’s hard. We’re good enough to be a semifinal type of team,” Noll said. “The 4A bracket is not a normal bracket. Next year everything will get back to normal a little bit. We had a great year.

“We beat a really good 6A team (Normal West), we beat Morris, it’s still in the tournament. We beat Rochelle. Seven of the nine teams on our schedule were playoff teams, and six of the seven won in the first round. We did really good things. We didn’t play well enough to win [Saturday] against [Providence]. That team was good. I’m proud of our kids.”

Local presence: The last time a local team did not play for a state championship was in the 2015 season, when Cary-Grove lost to Glenbard West in a Class 7A semifinal and Prairie Ridge lost to Montini in a 6A semi.

Prairie Ridge can extend that streak to six consecutive seasons with a win over St. Ignatius.

In 2016, Johnsburg was Class 4A runner-up and Prairie Ridge was 6A state champion.

In 2017, the Wolves repeated as state champs. In 2018, Cary-Grove won the Class 6A state title.

In 2019, R-B won the Class 4A state title and Prairie Ridge was runner-up in 6A.

And in 2021, C-G won the Class 6A title.

Since 2009, when C-G won its first of three state titles, there have been only three seasons in which a local team did not make it to a championship game (2010, 2013 and 2015).