By Todd Rohde
The Johnsburg football team may not have scored a victory yet this season for their efforts out on the gridiron, but they are getting very close with each week that they take the field. With the above in mind, it could be said though that the Skyhawks are undefeated in the category of moral victories and for them that is just fine.
That’s because the Skyhawks have been able to show considerable improvement in all facets of the game and continue to gain experience and grow as a program. Johnsburg’s latest performance Sept. 13th was a testament to show that they are taking steps in the right direction, as they used a late-game rally to make things interesting by giving their Ram opponents a scare.
By the time the horn sounded though, the Skyhawks were on the short end of a 28-21 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division defeat at the hands of Grayslake Central at Eiserman Stadium in Grayslake. The loss dropped the Skyhawks to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in league play for the season, while the Rams remain perfect at 3-0 and 1-0 on the year.
Two things in particular made Johnsburg’s effort impressive; one was that they were able to hold their composure and fight back after getting down pretty big and that they were able to compete with a quality and tough program like the Rams. On the other hand, the one aspect that is still proving very costly for the Skyhawks is turning the ball over at pivotal points in the game.
Things got off to a pretty solid beginning for the Skyhawks, as they were able to get on the board first in the opening quarter. They did so as quarterback Nick Brengman hooked up with receiver Bailey Stefka for an eight-yard touchdown reception to put Johnsburg up 7-0.
Grayslake Central would fight back before the half though to keep the Skyhawks honest. They punched the ball into the end zone themselves in the second quarter to even the score at 7-7 at the break.
With the game still up in the air and anyone’s for the taking, the second half proved to be a tale of two completely different quarters. The third definitely belonged to the Rams, as they could do no wrong by scoring three times in building up what looked like a sizeable lead. The fourth quarter though was owned by the Skyhawks, where they did their best to rally back into the contest and threaten to pull off a come-from-behind victory.
On the very first play of the opening possession in the third quarter, Ram running back Malcolm Reed busted free for 78-yard touchdown scamper to give Grayslake a 14-7 lead. The Rams would pad their lead to 28-7 by scoring twice in the final two minutes of the quarter including at the 1:45 mark and again with 39 ticks left on the clock.
Then just when it looked as if the Skyhawks had the wind taken out of their sails and their backs against the wall, they dug deep and regrouped to make a game of it in the final 12 minutes of play. They pulled to within 28-21 with 3:20 remaining, as they found the end zone twice on a score at the start of the quarter and another towards the end.
Brengman first completed a 46-yard scoring reception to Alec Graef, then ran one in himself from a yard out. With time running down and of the essence, the Skyhawks chose to attempt and onside kick, which Ben Stillwell pounced on the Rams 44.
This gave the Skyhawks some life and hope, as they would have two possessions to tie the game up in the closing minutes. But both times in the final 90 seconds, Brengman was intercepted by Kasey Adams, including once within the five-yard line to seal the victory for the Rams.
Despite his three interceptions, Brengman had an outstanding game to lead the Skyhawks as he completed 22 0f this 42 pass attempts for 205 yards and two TD’s. The Rams were fueled by Reed racking up 168 yards rushing on 19 carries.