By Steve Robinson | September 15, 2013 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: Olympia HS, The Normalite, U-High

FootballNORMAL – No Friday The 13th jinx was in play for Normal University High School’s football squad as they continued rolling past another opponent during their Corn Belt Conference contest against Stanford Olympia at Hancock Stadium on one of the calendar’s more fateful days. The Pioneers defeated the Spartans, 49-14.

Junior quarterback Arion Worthman before a crowd of roughly 800 fans, U-High (3-0, 2-0 Corn Belt) put the Pioneers on the board first on the team’s first possession, running 19 yards into the end zone, with 9:36 left in the first quarter, putting the home team up, 7-0, following senior kicker Luke Otto’s extra point.

Olympia’s subsequent possession ended in a punt, which the Pioneers took advantage upon getting the ball back, as Worthman connected with sophomore wide receiver Joseph Hughes on a 6-yard touchdown strike, capping a 4-play, 41 yard drive, followed by another Otto extra point, putting U-High in front, 14-0, at the 7:37 mark in the opening quarter.

Worthman took matters into his own hands for the Pioneers’ next score, as he dashed 64 yards down the near sideline, trailed by Olympia defenders, for his second touchdown of the game. But although Otto muffed his extra point try, U-High owned a 20-0 lead.

Worthman and junior receiver Niles Smith connected in the quarter for U-High’s next score, a 10-yard touchdown pass coming with six seconds left. But Otto missed the extra point, sending U-High holding a 26-0 lead going into the second quarter.

U-High FootballWorthman and Smith teamed up a second time for another touchdown with 7:40 left in the second quarter, followed by another successful Otto extra point, putting U-High up, 33-0. Olympia’s defense began getting intensifying as the half drew to a close, managing to force Worthman to make quick decisions as the half wore down, including a shovel pass to senior running back Joe Johnson, who converted it into a 48-yard touchdown, with 2:23 left until halftime. Although Otto missed the extra point, the Pioneers took a 39-0 lead into the half.

Olympia had two possessions to open the second half, keeping the ball on the ground for most of it, while their defense tried keeping U-High at a standstill offensively, managing to demonstrate that when the Spartans’ defense held the Pioneers to a 22-yard field goal by Otto with 5:42 left in the third quarter, upping U-High’s lead, 42-0, as the third quarter closed.

With U-High holding a 40-point margin over their opponents, game officials employed the use of the Illinois High School Association Mercy Rule, using a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.

Olympia (0-3, 0-2 Corn Belt) switched quarterbacks in the fourth quarter, putting sophomore Collin Miller in the game for junior starter Austin Bruner. Miller shuffled among passing and running plays to get the Spartans’ first score, an 8-yard rushing touchdown by senior tight end Jason Mann, with 6:25 left in the contest. But Olympia missed the extra point, cutting U-High’s lead, 49-6.

Stanford-Olympia SpartansOlympia’s attempt at an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff succeeded, giving the Spartans the ball on U-High’s 47 yard line. On the first play of the new drive, Miller connected with Mann for a second touchdown, with 5:28 left in the contest. Senior running back Garrett French got the call when the Spartans tried a two-point conversion, which succeeded, leading to the eventual final score.

“The first thing I was happy with was our defense,” said U-High head coach Dusty Burk. “I thought they played outstanding. Our first group of defensive guys really shut down Olympia’s offense. They gave our offense the ball in really good position.

“We never want to let up,” Burk said. “We always want to finish the job. In the second half, we gave up some points and we didn’t finish a couple drives, gave up some turnovers. We’re never going to be satisfied. We want to finish every play and every drive.”

“U-High was as good as what I saw on film,” said Olympia head coach Mike Rathbun. “Their speed was just something we couldn’t compensate for.” The third-season Spartans head coach said Bruner “did as good as he could with what he had to work with. I have no complaints with what Austin did.”

Prairie Central visits Hancock Stadium on Sept. 20 for University High’s homecoming.

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