By Steve Robinson | August 31, 2019 - 10:26 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Community High School’s senior class has a group of kids who team up to decide the theme students in the stands will use to enjoy watching their Ironmen football team. They set the tone for the evening. The theme selected for the Ironmen’s home opener Friday, Aug. 30 was “Hawaiian Night.” Figuratively speaking, the Ironmen opened the season kicking sand in the face of Peoria Richwoods to open the season, beating the Knights, 30-7, before 850 fans.

Senior running back Jake Hileman’s 23 yard touchdown dash put NCHS (1-0 Big 12 and overall) on the scoreboard for the first time this season with 2:34 remaining in the first quarter. But that was followed by a botched 2-point play, putting the Ironmen up, 6-0, for what would be the only points in the quarter.

Peoria Richwoods (0-1 Big 12 and overall) responded scoring on defense, as Knights senior defensive back Amaris Campbell picked off a pass by NCHS senior quarterback Aiden Oliver and scrambled his way 36 yards into the end zone, followed by a successful extra point by junior kicker Marcus Lanier. That gave the Knights a 7-6 lead, but it would be their only lead of the night, at 7:02 in the second quarter.

But on the ensuing series for NCHS, the Ironmen marched 73 yards in five plays topped off by Oliver’s 18 yard touchdown run, followed by a successful point after by freshman kicker Ryan Millmore. That put NCHS up, 13-7, at the 5:34 mark in the second quarter.

Richwoods would wind up punting to end the ensuing possession. But Lanier’s punt to the Ironmen wound up going nearly straight up, allowing NCHS to have the starting possession at Richwoods’ 31 yard line. Five plays later, Hileman scored for the second time on the night, this time from 2 yards out, increasing NCHS’ advantage, 20-7, following Millmore’s extra point with 48 seconds until halftime.

Third quarter action opened with Richwoods having two unsuccessful drives and NCHS one before the Ironmen would put points on the board again. After partially blocking a Knights punt, NCHS was able to start their next drive from the Knights’ 11 yard line. But Knights defenders kept NCHS from being unable to maneuver into the end zone. That prompted NCHS to kick a field goal from 26 yards out. With the successful kick, Millmore increased NCHS’ lead, 23-7.

Senior wide receivers Camron Jackson’s fourth quarter touchdown, followed by Millmore’s extra point finished out NCHS’ scoring on the night.

But officials’ flags flew often during the contest. NCHS was flagged enough to be penalized 160 yards on the night compared to 312 yards in infractions Richwoods accumulated.

NCHS head coach Jason Drengwicz said calling play by both sides “a little bit sloppy would be the understatement of the football season. We didn’t play too well offensively, committing too many mental mistakes. We left a lot of points out there. “

But because football has three phases to it, Drengwicz said, he could give credit to the sections that did play well. “I thought our defense played outstanding and controlled the line of scrimmage. Special teams, I felt did an excellent job. We just need to pick it up on offense.”

He called the penalties his team got flagged for “self-inflicted.” “Richwoods did a heck of a job. There were a lot of penalties, a lot of false starts, a lot of holding calls – all things we need to clean up. If we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish this year, we can’t have 20 penalties or however many we had. That’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis.”

For Richwoods head coach Roland Brown, what needs to be taken care of before his team’s game next week playing host to Peoria Manual was basic. “We’ve got to generate some offense,” he said. “I don’t think that we performed very well up front. I knew NCHS had a lot of offensive starters coming back and good defense, but I think we had a little success, but our defense was on the field all day. I thought our defense flew around and played very well, and kept NCHS out of the end zone when we could have easily have let them in. Defensively, it was a pretty decent game, offensively, it’s got to go up.”

Friday, Sept. 6 is the annual “Chili Bowl” game for Unit 5’s two crosstown rivals as NCHS travels to Normal Community West High School. Kickoff is slated for 7p.m.

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