April 24, 2024
Illinois High School Sports

Rochelle rolls past Woodstock in season opener

Woodstock quarterback Caden Thompson hands off to running back Landen Stoltz in their game against Rochelle on Friday.

WOODSTOCK — Woodstock took Rochelle to a tight finish in their Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Conference crossover contest last season.

This year’s edition was a lopsided battle, however, with the Hubs rumbling for nearly 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns while adding over 100 yards through the air to cruise over the Blue Streaks 40-0 Friday at Larry Dale Field.

Although both teams turned the ball over, with each team committing three in the game, Woodstock’s mistakes proved to be the most costly. After a fumbled snap on Rochelle’s opening drive of the game, the Blue Streaks had a chance to change the momentum of the game, but Hubs linebacker Ethan Goodwin picked off Woodstock quarterback Caden Thompson and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.

“Rochelle is a physical team and they come downhill, but I thought our kids played tough,” Woodstock coach Mike Brasile said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with the pick-6 and we had another shot we took that was picked off as well, so those two turnovers deflated us a little bit. I thought our kids battled, but we have to make sure we’re not making those mistakes.”

Trailing 8-0 midway through the first quarter, Thompson fired downfield on Woodstock’s second drive, but a contested ball was ultimately snagged away by Rochelle safety Grant Gensler, who was a two-way standout for the Hubs.

Rochelle capitalized on the turnover early in the second quarter, where Gensler knifed into the end zone on a fourth-and-4 rush to put the Hubs ahead 16-0. Gensler totaled 191 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

“We forced a few turnovers tonight, but I felt that it was too often where they would be in a third-and-medium situation and they would get a first down,” Brasile said. “They’re a team that doesn’t punt and we knew they were going to run the ball on fourth down, but defensively, we have to be better on first down so we aren’t giving them a short set of sticks to work with.”

The Hubs showed no signs of slowing down on their next drive, scoring after forcing a punt to take a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter. Rochelle reached the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run from Gensler that was set up by two short completions from quarterback Carson Lewis, who converted 8-of-13 passes for 102 yards and one interception in the game.

Woodstock’s defense stood tall in the final minute of the first half, where the Blue Streaks forced and recovered a fumble by Rochelle wide receiver Elijah Harley. Woodstock nearly scored on its last play of the first half, executing a hook-and-lateral that saw wide receiver Charlie Gilmore tackled deep inside Rochelle territory. The Hubs led the Blue Streaks 24-0 at halftime.

Woodstock received the second-half kickoff and slowly gained momentum with its rushing attack, moving the ball behind solid runs from running backs Landen Stoltz and Maximus Miller, who combined for 82 yards on 24 carries in the game. But the Streaks were unable to find the big play to get on the scoreboard. An incomplete pass on a fourth-and-4 down stalled the drive, while a third interception by the Rochelle defense ended another drive later in the half.

“It’s tough to keep running the ball inside when we’re down and we need to come back, but I was really pleased with how we came downhill in the second half,” Brasile said. “We moved the line of scrimmage our way and we showed a lot of fight. It was unfortunate that the first half went the way it did, but I thought we did some nice things in the second half tonight.”

Rochelle’s Erich Metzger capped off the Hub win with a 4-yard touchdown run and a 60-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter. Metzger rushed for 98 yards on eight carries, while

Gensler led all rushers with 108 yards on 11 carries to lead the Rochelle offense in the game.

Russ Hodges for Shaw Local

Russ Hodges is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local