Kaneland confident in 34-7 playoff win

By on November 11, 2010

by Ryan Wells
Maple Park—“Confidence” was the word on the lips of the Kaneland players as they exited Peterson Field Saturday night following their 34-7 victory over Crystal Lake Central in round 2 of the IHSA football playoffs.

“We’re all just confident with each other,” said Kaneland wide receiver and defensive lineman Blake Serpa. “We know everyone is going to do their job, and not pay attention to what everybody else is supposed to do, and just execute.”

Perhaps most impressive in Saturday night’s win was how each phase of the Knights’ game built confidence in the other phases.

For example, each of the six booming kickoffs by Matt Rodriguez forced the Tigers to start deep in their own territory, including three that went for a touchback after crossing the plane of the endzone. According to Serpa, who caught two passes for 24 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushed eight times for 41 yards and another score, this simply added to the defensive unit’s confidence, as has been the case all season.

“Our kicker has always given us field position,” he said. “With our defense, we think if they have to drive 80 yards it’s going to be harder for them than it is for us driving the 50 yards that we have to drive.”

Another example of the cyclical nature of the Knights’ confidence Saturday night was how their defensive ability to stop the Tigers emboldened the Knights’ offense, particularly on third down. Not only did Kaneland fare well on third down, converting on eight of 11 attempts, but the offense became even more aggressive on third downs, going for the long play just as often as going for first-down yardage.

In fact, four of the Knights touchdowns—and all of KHS quarterback Joe Camiliere’s touchdown tosses—came on third down. Quinn Buschbacher, who led the receiver corps with 104 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions, said their success on third down is a result of their confidence in each other.

“I think we have a lot of confidence in everybody on the offense,” he said. “I mean, we trust our offensive line to hold their block as long as possible. We also trust Joe, and the receivers, to find the opening, to find the open man.”

The game began with both teams showing confidence; each team putting together a long drive that took the game into the second quarter.

Kaneland opened the game with a drive from its own 32 yard line. They pushed the ball to the Tiger 21-yard-line with a mix of runs and passes before facing a third-and-eight at the Tiger 21 yard line.

That’s when Camiliere found Tyler Callaghan over the middle. Callaghan worked his way toward the end zone, falling across the goal line with 6:50 left in the first quarter. Rodriguez’s extra point gave Kaneland a 7-0 lead.

Crystal Lake Central responded with its own long drive, one that started from its own 20 and ate up the rest of the first quarter and the first 14 seconds of the second. Highlighted by a 33-yard pass to the left flat from quarterback Brett Schuld to reciever Connor Baumann, the Tigers worked their way to a second-and-goal at the Kaneland 9-yard-line.

Tiger running back Dyllon McKinney took a pitch around the left end and dove over the corner of the end zone to knot the score at 7 apiece.

Kaneland had the benefit of great field position on its next drive, starting from its own 46-yard-line. A leaping grab for an 18-yard gain by Taylor Andrews put the ball at the Tiger 36-yard-line, and soon Kaneland found itself facing a third-and-seven from the CLC 33-yard-line. That’s when freshman receiver Daniel Helm caught a pass on a 10-yard turnaround on the right side, shook off a couple of would-be tacklers and raced to a 32-yard touchdown and 13-7 lead. Trouble with the snap and hold on the extra-point attempt left the score at 13-7, with 10:19 left to play in the half.

After forcing Crystal Lake Central to punt on its next drive, Kaneland found itself having to punt away as well. However, the Tigers fumbled on the return, giving Kaneland the ball back with great field position at the Tiger 40-yard-line with 5:13 to go in the half.

Just over a minute later, Serpa took a hand-off and broke through the line off the right tackle, finding the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown run. The TD and extra point gave Kaneland a 20-7 lead with 3:56 remaining in the half.

Serpa helped end the Tigers’ next drive, pressuring Tiger QB Brett Schuld on third-and-11 from their own 19 and forcing him to throw the ball away. The defensive stand led to a Tiger punt and great field position for the Knights, who started their next drive at the CLC 30-yard-line.

On third-and-10 from the Tiger 18, Camiliere tossed a pass down the right seam to Serpa, who was double-covered by the Tigers. Serpa’s leaping grab in the end zone gave Kaneland a 27-7 lead with 43 seconds left in the half, effectively putting the game out of reach for Crystal Lake.

The second half saw Kaneland’s defense clamp down, holding CLC scoreless, and its offense to run time off the clock and make sure that when the Tigers would regain the ball, it was deep in its own territory.

Kaneland added the final points of the night with 3:42 left in the game when Camiliere hit Buschbacher in stride over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

Holding a 20-7 lead with less than three minutes left in the first half, the Kaneland defense needed to keep Crystal Lake from clawing back into the game before half time. Having just scored a touchdown on the previous drive, Kaneland defensive lineman/wide receiver Blake Serpa worked through the CLC offensive line and put pressure on the Tiger quarterback, forcing him to throw a third-down pass out of bounds to set up a fourth down punting situation. A couple of minutes later, Serpa would score again on a leaping catch in the end zone with less than a minute left in the half, giving Kaneland a 27-7 lead and effectively putting the game out of reach for the Crystal Lake Central Tigers.

Up next …

Vernon Hills
#1 Maple Park (Kaneland) (11-0)
at #4 Vernon Hills (10-1),
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Kaneland will travel to North Suburban Prairie Conference champions Vernon Hills on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m.
Vernon Hills enters the contest as the No. 4 seed with a 10-1 record. The team started the season with an amazing seven-consecutive shutout victories, outscoring its opponents 310-0 during the streak.
Fresh off a 37-22 victory over Tinley Park High School last week, Vernon Hills may prove to be the Knights’ toughest test yet this season.

And then there were 8
Third-round 5A contests
#1 Kaneland (11-0)
at #4 Vernon Hills (10-1),
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

#10 Woodstock (Marian) (8-3)
at #6 Lombard (Montini),
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

#2 Joliet (Catholic Academy) (10-1)
at #1 Peoria (Richwoods) (11-0),
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

#4 Chatham (Glenwood) (8-3)
at #3 Springfield (H.S.) (9-2),
Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Photo: Receiver Tyler Callaghan drives to the goal line for the first 6 points of Kaneland’s 34-7 victory over the visiting Crystal Lake Central Tigers in 2nd-round playoff action in Maple Park. The Knights travel to Vernon Hills Saturday at 1 p.m. in quarterfinal action. Photo by Ryan Wells

About Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells is the owner and publisher of the Elburn Herald. You can reach him at RyanWells@elburnherald.com, or by calling (630) 703-9201, ext. 107.

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