Morris hopes to clinch playoff berth vs. Marengo

Team seeking fifth win in a row to start season

MORRIS – While it may seem like the high school football season just started, the Morris football team can clinch a playoff berth Friday night with a win over Marengo in a Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 crossover game.

“We certainly aren’t looking ahead and we take our games one week at a time, but the kids know what five wins means,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “You can’t get into the playoffs without that fifth win, so we might as well get it as early as we can and check that off our list of what we want to accomplish this year.”

Both teams enter the game riding winning streaks. Morris (4-0) has won all four games it has played this season and has increased its point production in each game. They beat Coal City, 13-3, in the season opener, followed by wins over Antioch (31-21), Woodstock North (56-12) and Woodstock (63-13). Marengo, on the other hand, lost a 23-0 decision to Class 3A top-ranked Wilmington to start the year, but has since won games over Canton (39-21), Johnsburg (42-14) and Harvard (39-0).

The Indians are led by junior quarterback Joshua Holst, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior who completed 11 of 20 passes for 144 yards and four touchdowns last week against Harvard. His favorite target was wide receiver Colin Aubry, who caught six passes for 111 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, running back Dylan Stoltz carried 24 times for 155 yards and a pair of TDs. And, the Marengo defense limited Harvard’s rushing attack to just 99 yards.

“Their quarterback can throw the ball, for sure,” Thorson said. “I think he has 12 touchdown passes already, and that’s in the last three games. They like to spread it around to a lot of different receivers, but No. 15 [Aubry] is probably their main guy. They can run the ball, too. They have a very similar offense to ours.”

Morris’ offense has been improving each week, mainly due to the big men up front. The offensive line of Justin Hemmersbach, Nick Perry, Aidan King, Justin Newman and Parker Pierce paved the way for Morris to run for 370 yards last week against Woodstock.

The rushing attack is headed up by the two-pronged attack of quarterback Zach Romak (44 carries, 298 yards, 5 TDs) and running back Ashton Yard (42 carries, 286 yards, 2 TDs). Through the air, Romak has completed 37 of 52 for 487 yards and six touchdowns against no interceptions. His main target has been Myles Johnston, who has 13 catches for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns. Other top targets include Aidan Romak (7 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD), Henry Hansen (5 catches, 69 yards, 2 TDs) and Cameron Hatcher (7 catches, 64 yards).

“Defensively, Marengo will use a four-man front,” Thorson said. “They don’t have huge numbers, but the players they do have are good sized. We want to come out and be physical and just keep doing what we have been doing.

“The progression of our offensive line has been a big key for us. We knew what Hemmersbach and Perry could do, but the other three didn’t really play much last year. They have really come together as a unit and they are playing really well.”

Rob Oesterle

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.