By Steve Robinson | April 4, 2021 - 10:25 pm
Posted in Category: Bloomington HS, NCHS, The Normalite

BLOOMINGTON – Normal Community High School’s football team has had its way with Big 12 Conference rival Bloomington High School for the last seven years, winning at home and here at Fred Carlton Field. Friday night, however, in a low scoring affair, the Purple Raiders’ scored on both offense and defense while confining the Ironmen to being scoreless for half the contest as BHS defeated NCHS, 12-6, Friday night. The win gave the Purple Raiders their first victory on the abbreviated season.

BHS (1-2) scored first to complete their first series of downs following the opening kickoff with senior running back Ean Haggarty bursting through the Ironmen defense for a 49 yard touchdown drive at 9:50 in the first quarter. That play capped a 6 play 86 yard drive followed by a successful extra point by junior kicker Cameron Anderson, putting the hosts up, 7-0.

Later in the quarter, with NCHS deep in their own territory, Ironmen sophomore kicker Ryan Millmore lost and recovered the ball in the end zone before he could punt and BHS freshman defensive lineman Miguel Espindola tackled Millmore for a safety, increasing the Purple Raiders’ lead, 9-0, going into the second quarter.

From there, defenses for both sides stayed busy through the second and third quarters preventing any scoring. A 26 yard field goal by Anderson ended that drought with 7:04 left in the contest extended BHS’ advantage capping a 65 yard drive, extending the Purple Raiders’ lead to 12-3.

BHS’ defense kept NCHS close to midfield following the ensuing kickoff but the Ironmen managed to get to the BHS 31 as time started winding down. Millmore entered the contest a last time with 5:55 remaining kicking a 41 yard field goal which cut BHS’ lead in half. But NCHS could not gain possession again before the final horn.

Ironmen sophomore backup quarterback Chase Wiese completed 15-of-31 passes for 163 yards in what was his debut under center. Wellman completed 8-of-13 passes garnering 81 yards in the victory.

NCHS was short-handed going into this contest as junior starting quarterback Chase Mackey was continuing to recover from an injury he suffered during NCHS’ opening game against Normal Community West March 20. In addition, contact tracing related to COVID-19 kept NCHS’ all five offensive line players sidelined. In all, a total of seven Ironmen players did not play due to COVID-19 related issues.

BHS head coach Scott Godfrey said he was aware of the medical issues NCHS faced coming into this game and had praise for how his team got back on the winning track against the Ironmen. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said about snapping his team’s losing streak against the Ironmen. “It’s a big win for us.”

“We put the pressure on our guys all week if we wanted into the playoffs,” Godfrey added. “We knew we were going to have to earn it against NCHS and our guys came out and executed.”

“It hurts to get beat, but I’m extremely proud of our guys and how they battled,” NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz said. “We had the short hand tonight, but the credit goes to Bloomington. They played well offensively. They played well on special teams and they played really well on defense.

“Maybe we’ll get a chance to play them again,” the second season Ironmen head coach said. “I’m disappointed for the loss and I’m disappointed for our seniors. However, I’m really proud of the effort our kids played. They fought hard and they never gave up. They stuck together to the very end.”

Drengwitz was quick to credit Wiese for his effort on the night, saying, “For his first start, he did a really nice job. He battled a lot of adversity and did a lot of difficult things.”

By Steve Robinson | October 5, 2019 - 10:57 pm
Posted in Category: Bloomington HS, NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Community High School managed to outpace Bloomington High School in the second half Friday night to defeat the Purple Raiders in their Big 12 Conference contest, 43-26, at Ironmen Field. For NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz, it has been a season of trying to put a complete game – offense, defense, and special teams – together. This night, Drengwitz said afterward, his team accomplished that.

A scoreless first quarter and a fast-paced first quarter contributed to NCHS’ getting and keeping ahead of their guests as roughly 850 fans watched.

BHS had first possession but would up punting on fourth down to NCHS (5-1 overall, 5-0 Big 12), who began their first drive from their own 44. On the first play of the drive, senior quarterback Aidan Oliver rushed for 33 yards getting the Ironmen into Purple Raiders’ territory, to BHS’ 13. Two plays later, Oliver dashed into the end zone from BHS’ 2 yard line for a touchdown, followed by a successful 2-point conversion run from sophomore quarterback Chase Mackey. That gave NCHS a quick 8-0 lead at 8:43 in the first quarter for what would be the only score going into the second half.

A 33 yard pass from junior quarterback Ben Wellman to senior wide receiver Ivan Smith ended in Smith dashing down the far sideline for the first points of the game for BHS (3-3 overall, 3-2 Big 12) followed by Wellman and Smith connecting on a 2-point conversion play. That tied the score at 8-all with 5:09 left in the quarter.

BHS’ ensuing kickoff, although briefly fumbled by NCHS, wound up recovered by the Ironmen, who started their next drive from their own 45. Eight plays later, Oliver would rush for his second touchdown of the night from 15 yards out followed by the senior quarterback keeping the ball and completing the 2-point conversion play solo. That had NCHS up, 16-8, going into halftime.

The Ironmen were able to advance the score further having received the second half kickoff, using a 10-play drive to get into the end zone as Oliver scored on a five yard run with eight minutes left in the third quarter. His score was followed by Millmore’s point after advancing NCHS’ lead, 23-8.

BHS’ next possession ended in a punt and the Ironmen were able to get the return to their own 42 to start their next drive. Six plays later, senior tight end Reid Watkins caught an Oliver pass from 15 yards out to put NCHS up, 30-8 with 3:07 left in the quarter, following Millmore’s extra point.

BHS’ next possession ended in a punt and began NCHS’ next possession at the Ironmen 47 after NCHS was flagged for holding. Five plays later, Oliver dashed into the end zone from five yards out, but Millmore missed the extra point. Despite that, NCHS held a 36-8 lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

BHS started their next drive from their own 24 after the ensuing kickoff but Wellman’s 76 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Eric Johnson stunned the Ironmen briefly, followed by a failed 2-point conversion try, reducing NCHS’ lead, 36-14 with nine seconds remaining in the third quarter.

NCHS’ return team fumbled BHS’ ensuing kickoff, briefly giving the Purple Raiders the ball at midfield with one second left in the quarter, but then committed a turnover of their own as NCHS sophomore defensive back Keewan Grismore intercepted Wellman’s intended pass giving the Ironmen the ball at BHS’ 20 to open the fourth quarter. Senior wide receiver Camron Jackson scored on a running play from that distance, followed by Millmore’s extra point, advancing the Ironmen’s lead, 43-14.

From there, BHS would sacrifice possession on a turnover on downs and NCHS would punt the ball away before another score. That score would come with 4:08 remaining when Wellman would connect with senior wide receiver Diontay Griffin from six yards out for a touchdown, capping a 6 play 57 yard drive. BHS’ try at a 2 point conversion after scoring was unsuccessful, but the added points cut NCHS’ lead to 43-20.

NCHS being deep in their own end zone in the closing moments of the game would help BHS achieve their last score on the night as sophomore linebacker Sam Pena would block the Ironmen’s punt and fall on it in the end zone. That would result in the final score after the Purple Raiders failed to convert a 2-point conversion.

“It seems like every game, it’s been one phase or two phases that have played well while others were lacking,” Drengwitz said. “I feel like if we can ever put all three phases of the game together, we’d be really good. But that’s why you go to practice and why you go and watch film.

Jackson rushed for 110 yards as he stepped in for an injured Jake Hileman. Hileman suffered a torn meniscus in a knee in the Ironmen’s road game at Lapeer, Mich. two weeks ago and had surgery on that knee the afternoon before this game. “We hope Hileman is healthy and we want to do right by him,” Drengwitz said. If all goes well with Hileman’s recovery, he could be back by week 9 or in time for playoffs, his coach explained.

“Our guys – they didn’t quit and they kept battling,” said BHS head coach Scott Godfrey. “We had some things fall our way – penalties and blocked punts fall our way – we put a scare into them, but I felt Normal was always in control.”

Godfrey credited NCHS with “being so strong on the offensive line both offensively and defensively. That is where we are losing some of these bigger games. We’re having a hard time winning the line of scrimmage.”

Godfrey finished by adding, “When you play these guys, you know you’re going to have your work cut out for you.”

By Steve Robinson | October 23, 2018 - 10:11 pm

NORMAL – University High’s top seeded Volleyball team swept Central Catholic in two games of the Class 3A Regional the Saints hosted Tuesday, earning a shot at the event’s championship. The Pioneers advanced to Thursday’s championship match by beating 7th seed BCC with scores of 26-24 and 25-18. The Pioneers will take on Manteno Thursday night. Manteno swept Fairbury Prairie Central by scores of 30-28 and 25-14.

U-High Takes Game One, 26-24: In game one, the top seed Pioneers and 7th seed Saints matched each other point for point until U-High pulled away thanks to a pair of kills – one by Alyanna Crabtree and one by Jess McDowell – to pull in front, 18-14, prompting BCC head coach Teresa Ulrich to call a timeout. Following the timeout, a Pioneers driving the ball into the net followed by a kill by senior middle hitter Morgan Koch cut the Pioneers’ lead to two, 19-17.

Saints sophomore outside hitter Abby Cox delivered two serves which proved problematic for U-High, the first was shot into the net while the second fell short of it, allowing BCC to tie the game at 20-20, prompting Pioneers head coach Michael Bolhuis to call timeout. The game would tie two more times, at 22-all and 24-all before U-High would overcome serves by Saints senior outside hitter Mallory Bergbower to take the first contest.

Pioneers Overcome Saints’ Streaks In Game Two, 25-18: University High struggled through the first part of the second game, leading briefly, 2-1 before BCC tied the game at 2-all, and with Cox serving, went on a four-point unanswered streak, taking a 6-2 lead until a Pioneers kill cut that lead, 6-3. U-High crept into an 8-all tie before a kill by junior setter Isobel Schaefbauer helped give them a one-point lead, 9-8, which they stretched into a 10-8 lead forcing BCC head coach Teresa Ulrich to take a timeout.

From there, the score would be tied once more at 10-all, but with junior outside hitter Alayna Crabtree and junior defensive specialist Skyler Jenkins serving, the Pioneers were able to advance to an 18-11 advantage. A kill each from Saints junior defensive specialist Ellie Nelson and U-High’s Tongate pushed U-High into a 22-15 lead. Crabtree, with her team up, 24-18, delivered U-High’s last serve which BCC returned but failed to keep in bounds leading to the final score, giving the Pioneers a sweep and a shot at the Regional crown provided they won against Manteno.

The victory advances U-High’s record going into the Regional Championship at 27-7. BCC’s season ends with a 21-15 record. Crabtree registered 6 kills while McDowell had 5 for U-High. McDowell also served three aces. Their teammate, senior setter Macy Tongate had 12 assists and three blocks. Junior defensive specialist Logan Murray had 4 digs.

While BCC had no aces, Cox scored 10 service points. Bergbower had 9 kills, followed by 7 from senior middle hitter Morgan Koch. Junior setter Kate Moorman-Wolfe lent 22 assists and had one block. Bergbower also had a block. Senior middle blocker Lauren O’Donnell had 9 digs followed by junior defensive specialist Sydney Adams’ 8.

“We knew BCC would try sending the ball to senior middle hitter Morgan Koch when they could and we didn’t do a very good job of slowing her down at all,” U-High’s Bolhuis said. “It was neck-and-neck, and kind of a high tension match all the way through,” Bolhuis said, giving credit to the seniors on his team with using their experience to get their team through the match and overcoming moments when they trailed.

BCC’s Ulrich said she reminded her team “U-High’s going to walk in here without any doubt they will walk out of here with a victory and I told our girls we have to do the same thing. In order to stay in this game, we’re going to have to be aggressive and fast at the net and if that means our middle hitters need to block, then that’s it.”

Ulrich said her team executed that plan well in game one, but she admitted, “Unfortunately, in game two, our nerves got the better of us because as soon as U-High started to come back, we started to retreat.”

By Steve Robinson | September 29, 2018 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: Bloomington HS, NCHS, The Normalite

BLOOMINGTON – Normal Community High School senior quarterback Daylen Boddie scored four running touchdowns totaling 80 yards and threw over 200 yards passing as the visiting Ironmen defeated Bloomington High School at Fred Carlton Field Friday night, outpacing the Purple Raiders, 49-28, for a Big 12 Conference victory.

BHS (4-2 overall, 3-2 Big 12) could only mount single-digit scoring each quarter but surprised their fans and stunned the visitors when senior wide receiver Drew Crooks took the contest’s opening kickoff at his own 13 yard line and then weaved his way through Ironmen defenders and then found a hole in the defense which he used to score the game’s first points. That gave BHS a quick 7-0 lead at 11:48 in the first quarter following freshman kicker Jack Weltha’s extra point.

After each team failed to score on a possession and BHS punted, NCHS (5-0 Big 12, 5-1 overall) and Boddie received the ball at his team’s own 46. From there, he weaved through defenders for his team’s first score of the game followed by senior kicker Camron Hinman’s extra point to tie the game, 7-all, with 5:35 left in the quarter. Boddie scored his next touchdown from five yards out with 55.2 seconds left in the quarter followed by Hinman’s extra point, putting the Ironmen up, 14-7.

Junior running back Jake Hileman scored from five yards out to cap a 3-play, 53 yard drive for NCHS putting the Ironmen up, 21-7, following Hinman’s extra point at 3:56 in the second quarter.

BHS’ ensuing drive resulted in a 6 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Griffin Moore to junior wide receiver Diontay Griffin with 47.5 seconds until halftime capping an 8 play, 64 yard drive. A 2-point conversion pass from senior wide receiver C. J. Hyde to junior wide receiver Ivan Smith provided a surprise for fans and cut NCHS’ halftime lead to 21-15.

NCHS received the ball after the half and marched 65 yards on 7 plays for their next score, a 26 yard pass from Boddie to senior wide receiver Connor Lay at 9:14 in the third quarter followed by Hinman’s extra point, increasing the Ironmen’s margin, 28-15.

Following a BHS punt, the Ironmen scored again, with Boddie running into the end zone from 14 yards out to put the visitors up, 35-15, after Hinman’s next extra point at 6:07 in the quarter. BHS pulled within 13, 35-22, when Moore connected with senior wide receiver Mauliek Johnson on a 22-yard pass play followed by Weltha’s next extra point, with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter.

But NCHS increased their lead by 20, 42-22, at 11:31 in the fourth quarter when Boddie connected with senior wide receiver Dishon Hall II on a 20 yard scoring pass followed by Hinman’s extra point.

Starting with an interception of a Bloomington pass by Ironmen Hall playing defensive back, NCHS began their next drive at the Purple Raiders’ 16. Three plays later, Boddie scored from seven yards out to top the drive, followed by Hinman’s extra point, with 8:16 left, pushing the Ironmen up, 49-22.

BHS scored their last points of the night thanks to Smith’s 19 yard running touchdown with 5:58 remaining in the contest but Weltha missing the extra point.

Explaining the Ironmen’s performance in the second half, Boddie said rhetorically afterward, “It looked like we got a little juiced at half, didn’t it?,” and then referring to Ironmen head coach Jason Drengwitz, added, “Coach told us to keep our composure and play our game, and that’s what we did. We just played our game.”

Referring to the contest overall, Drengwitz said, “ Bloomington was doing some things we had to adjust to and they were playing physical and their assignments were sound.” He said his team put itself behind in a couple instances but were still able to come away with a win.

When BHS scored on the opening kickoff, Drengwitz said, his players showed no panic and took that as a sign “they needed to step up.”

This contest, BHS head coach Scott Godfrey said afterward, is “why our guys need to be in the weight room. NCHS was more physical than us and they took the fight to us in the second half. That Normal Community team is bigger and more physical than we are.

“If we don’t close that gap down,” Godfrey added, “The result’s not going to change.”

“We knew at some point we would have to match score-for-score with them,” Godfrey pointed out. “We told our guys ‘you have to keep going against this team,’” explaining to his players that NCHS has the ability to run away from opponents during contests.

“We knew what NCHS was capable of. At a certain point, we knew we would have to match score for score with them,” he explained. Godfrey said his players managed to achieve that matching in the first half, but he added, by the second half, “the better team won.”

NORMAL – Normal Community West High School stunned undefeated Bloomington High School in the first quarter of their Big 12 Conference contest by scoring 10 unanswered points in the opening quarter while their defense managed to hold the Purple Raiders scoreless in the first and fourth quarters en route to a 17-14 victory before roughly 1,500 fans at Wildcat Field Friday night.

Part of the credit for BHS’ remaining scoreless in the last stanza needed to go to junior defensive back Gavin Tellor, who dove to make an interception at Normal West’s 9 yard line with 44 seconds left in the game, staving off a potential victory by the visiting squad.

The victory handed BHS, who had started the season off by surging to a 3-0 start, a first loss of the season. Normal West (3-1 Big 12 and overall) scored on their first possession of the contest, a 17 yard pass from junior quarterback Carson Camp to senior wide receiver Magnus Moeller, followed by an extra point by senior kicker Parker Theobald. That gave the Wildcats a fast 7-0 lead, at the 8:25 mark

BHS (3-1 overall, 2-1 Big 12) saw their first possession of the contest end in a turnover of the ball to the Wildcats on downs at West’s 12 yard line. From there, the home team marched 88 yards on 12 plays ending in a Theobald 25 yard field goal, increasing West’s advantage, 10-0, with 14.7 seconds left in the opening quarter.

BHS got on the scoreboard thanks to senior quarterback’s first faking left before going up the middle for a 1 yard running touchdown at 3:14 in the second quarter followed by freshman kicker Jack Weltha’s extra point. That allowed Normal West to hold a 10-7 edge going into halftime, and to receive the ball to start the second half.

BHS opened the third quarter by holding the ball for nearly six minutes as they marched down field toward a concluding 2-yard scoring run by senior running back Holden Snyder at the 6:31 mark. That was followed by Weltha’s extra point, putting the Purple Raiders in front, 14-10. It was a lead that would stay in place going into the fourth quarter.

BHS was a minute and three seconds into their drive when the fourth quarter began from their own 11 yard line but three consecutive flags against the Purple Raiders and an incompletion forced them to punt the ball back to Normal West, where they began their next drive from their own 11. Thirteen plays later, sophomore wide receiver DeAris McQuirter scored from 8 yards out, capping an 89 yard march for a touchdown, putting Normal West in front, 17-14, following Theobald’s extra point.

Referring to Tellor, Normal West head coach Nate Fincham explained to reporters after the contest the 5 foot-8, 150 pound junior had sustained what his coach called “a pretty serious knee injury during the off-season.”

“We didn’t know what we were going to get out of him, and so he’s been kind of a huge surprise for us,” Fincham said. “That’s just because we didn’t know how he was going to recover from the knee injury. “He’s done a great job of working his way into the rotation to begin with.” As a result of his hard work, Tellor, Fincham explained, “Now, he’s become a starter and someone we rely on.”

As to how the Purple Raiders handled his team, Fincham said he had to credit BHS with “made some adjustments and were double- and triple-teaming Armani at times, so other people made plays,” referring to senior wide receiver Armani Forrest.

“I have to give BHS all the credit in the world,” Fincham added. “They were able to hold us in check for most of the game and luckily for us, we were able to get the victory.”

“If you hold Normal West to 17 points, you’re supposed to win,” said first season BHS head coach Scott Godfrey. “We settled down after that first drive or two after we got used to seeing their no huddle and hurry up. I think our defense settled in and I couldn’t ask anything more from them.

“We didn’t want any big plays from Normal West,” Godfrey added. “We kept the ball in front of us and we just didn’t let Armani Forrest just run wild. That was a big thing we were trying to do.”