Senior quarterback accounts for 5 TDs as the Griffins roll
The strong right arm of Lincoln-Way East quarterback Jack Baltz receives plenty of attention.
But the 6-foot-5, 190-pound senior showed Friday night he can wreak some havoc with his legs.
Baltz rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown to lead the secondseeded Griffins to a 49-0 win over visiting St. Charles East in a Class 8A first-round mismatch.
Lincoln-Way East (10-0) will play 18th-seeded Glenbard West (8-2), a 49-20 winner over Bartlett, in the second round.
Baltz picked up 25 of those rushing yards on a TD run that gave the Griffins a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
“It’s great for people to be able to see me running,” Baltz said. “I just keep my eyes down field. I think it’s good to showmy athleti- cism.”
The Illinois State recruit also showcased his arm, throwing for four TDs. Baltz completed 10 of 16 passes for 244 yards. Two of those TDs were to junior A.J. Henning, covering 20 and 28 yards.
Henning said teams that neglect Baltz’s legs will be in for a surprise.
“He’ll showus up sometimes in practice,” Henning said of Baltz. “He can run. He’s a great athlete.”
Not quite at the level of Henning, though. Baltz delivered a 20-yard TD pass that the 5-10, 180-pound Henning leapt high to bring down in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Henning made an even better catch in the second quarter. With a defender in front of him, Henning tipped the ball in the air before catching it while lying flat on his back in the end zone.
That play covered 28 yards and increased the lead to 35-0.
Henning said those acrobatic catches aren’t by accident.
“(Receivers) coach (Luke) Lokanc works those drills with us in practice every day,” Henning said. “Catching balls in traffic, catching balls in tight spaces. It’s all with the eyes. Focus in and tip the football. It’s justme and the ball in the air and I go up and get it.”
Baltz also hooked up with Chase Anderson on an 18-yardTDpass andMatt Judd on a 60-yardTDpass.
Baltz’s best pass, however, may have been a 34-yard connection to Jackson Ritter when the Griffins faced with a third-and-33 in the first quarter. It kept the drive alive, which eventually led to Baltz’s TDrun.
“Ritter was able to grind out a couple extra yards to get us the first down,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “We have some playmakers on offense.”
The defense isn’t too shabby, either. It was the sixth shutout of the season for the Griffins.
Kenny Palmer and Joshua Vargas had interceptions and Dylan Shelton was a constant force from the defensive line.
While the shutouts are nice, Shelton is more concerned with the defense playing up to its potential.
“Ifwe’re all doing our job, what’s on the scoreboard won’t matter,” Shelton said. “Wemay give up six points or 14 points to a really good team, but as long as we’re flying around and helping each other out, we’re doing our jobs.”
Lincoln-Way East quarterback Jack Baltz, right, bounces off St. Charles East’s Nick Schumann during a Class 8A first-round playoff game Friday. Baltz threw four touchdown passes and ran for a TD.
Lincoln-Way East’s A.J. Henning catches a pass for a touchdown as St. Charles East’s Nathan Hull defends during a Class 8A first-round playoff game Friday.