Hill­top­pers run roughshod over Bron­cos

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY MICHAEL O’BRIEN, STAFF RE­PORTER mo­[email protected]­times.com | @michael­so­brien

CHAM­PAIGN — Joliet Catholic’s run­ning game was a known com­mod­ity head­ing into the sea­son. The Hill­top­pers’ run­ning back tan­dem of Kenyetta Wil­liams and Keenan Hai­ley earned sev­eral pre­sea­son ac­co­lades.

Wil­liams suf­fered a sea­son-end­ing in­jury Week 1. Hai­ley had a fan­tas­tic sea­son be­hind Joliet Catholic’s tal­ented and ex­pe­ri­enced of­fen­sive line. That line stepped up in a big way in the Class 5A state ti­tle game Satur­day at Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

Hai­ley suf­fered an in­jury in the first half, but it didn’t mat­ter. Se­nior Nick Ian­nan­tone rushed for 318 yards and three touch­downs to help give the Hill­top­pers a 35-27 win.

“When [Hai­ley] went down, I just kept my com­po­sure,” Ian­nan­tone said. “I was get­ting pretty tired, but I just kept giv­ing it my all. Props to the guys up front. They blocked a great game.”

Se­niors Colin Cox, Dave Mon­not, Ryan Laule and Ty O’Janovac are all three-year starters on the of­fen­sive line for Joliet Catholic (10-4). Conor Ko­vas is a 6-1, 275-pound ju­nior.

“Our guys up front took over the game in the sec­ond half when we needed to,” Hill­top­pers coach Jake Ja­worski said. “The de­fense made the big stop when it had to.”

Mon­tini (12-2) had a chance to tie in the fi­nal min­utes, but Joliet Catholic stopped the Bron­cos on the 7-yard line, hold­ing strong on fourth-and-goal with four sec­onds to play.

“We just didn’t want to let them in the end zone,” Hill­top­pers se­nior Mundo Meyer said. “So we were giv­ing them ev­ery­thing un­der­neath, and the cards fell where they did.”

Hai­ley had 18 car­ries for 98 yards and two touch­downs. Hill­top­pers quar­ter­back Jor­dan Al­varez was 1-for-3 pass­ing for 15 yards.

“We’ve been a very ath­letic de­fense, but we are smaller up front,” Mon­tini coach Mike Bukovsky said. “We knew this was go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult matchup.”

Illi­nois re­cruit Nick Fedanzo had 17 car­ries for 189 yards and three touch­downs. Quar­ter­back Robert Brazz­iel was 10-for-22 for 163 yards. De­on­tay Bell, the Bron­cos’ run­ning quar­ter­back, had seven car­ries for 108 yards and a touch­down.

The Hill­top­pers have a statere­cord 14 foot­ball ti­tles won by five coaches. This is Ja­worski’s first.

WOR­SOM ROBIN­SON/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Joliet Catholic se­nior Nick Ian­nan­tone ran for 318 yards and three touch­downs.

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