Hilltoppers run roughshod over Broncos
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.
Joliet Catholic senior Nick Iannantone ran for 318 yards and three touchdowns.