By Steve Robinson | October 19, 2019 - 10:51 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – From the outset, it looked like a statistical mismatch to put Normal Community High School and Champaign Centennial High School against each other. While the Ironmen had only sustained one loss on the season, the Chargers were still in search of their first victory. Before a crowd of roughly 850 fans at Ironmen Stadium, NCHS added to their victories while adding to their opponent’s woes with a 41-13 victory.

As a result of the victory, the Ironmen (7-1 overall and 7-0 Big 12), ranked 10th in Illinois High School Association Class 7A, earned a share of the league championship. Crosstown rival Normal Community West High School and Peoria High are both 7-0 in league standings. The Ironmen’s final regular season game will be at Peoria High Friday, starting with a 4:30p.m. kickoff.

After the Chargers received the initial kickoff and punting on fourth down, senior quarterback Aidan Oliver’s 14 yard touchdown dash at 8:31 in the first quarter, followed by a two-point conversion pass from sophomore quarterback Chase Mackey to Oliver playing receiver gave the Ironmen a fast 8-0 lead. The score capped a 6 play 51 yard drive for the Ironmen.

Champaign Centennial’s next drive only lasted one play resulting in a fumble recovered by NCHS at the Chargers’ 21. Four plays later, junior running back Benjamin Larson scored on a two yard run at 6:57 in the quarter, followed by a successful extra point by freshman kicker Ryan Millmore, giving the Ironmen a 15-0 lead.

The Chargers next drive would begin at their own 32 after the kickoff and get as far as midfield before NCHS sophomore defensive back Keewan Grismore’s interception, giving the Ironmen the ball at their own 43. Four plays later, Oliver would connect with senior wide receiver Dylan Tracy on a 30 yard touchdown strike, followed by Millmore missing the extra point. That score would increase NCHS’ lead to 21-0 going into the second quarter.

Champaign Centennial (0-8 overall, 0-7 Big 12) would punt to end the ensuing possession, giving the Ironmen the ball on the Chargers’ 49 with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter. Four plays later, Oliver would dash for a 42 yard touchdown at the 11:43 mark in the second quarter, followed by a botched 2-point try. The score would advance the Ironmen’s lead, 27-0.

From there, each team would have a possession end in an interception, followed by the Chargers having a possession ending in a fumble recovered by NCHS senior defensive lineman Cade Hermann, giving the Ironmen the ball at the Chargers’ 14. Two plays later, Oliver would score again from 13 yards out followed by Millmore’s extra point, giving NCHS a 34-0 lead with 6:45 left until halftime.

The Chargers’ ensuing possession only lasted three downs and was followed by a punt which gave NCHS the ball back on their own 49. Two plays later, Oliver connected with senior wide receiver Dylan Tracy on a 32 yard touchdown pass play. Millmore’s extra point gave NCHS a 41-0 lead going into halftime.

Once the second half began, game officials employed IHSA’s “Mercy Rule,” – as a result of the 40-point difference in the game score, using a continuously running clock, stopping it for only timeouts taken by a team or because of an injury. The running clock began as the third quarter opened.

The Chargers scored to open the third quarter on a 3 play 60 yard drive ending in sophomore running back Montez DuBose’s 25 yard rushing score, followed by senior kicker Isaiah Douglass’ extra point, cutting NCHS’ 41-7 at the 5:28 mark and going into the fourth quarter. The guests’ final score would come at the 1:20 mark in the fourth quarter as sophomore quarterback Brady Boatright would connect with sophomore wide receiver Jack Young on a 15 yard touchdown pass, but the Chargers would miss the extra point.

“Centennial may be struggling, but we definitely weren’t taking them lightly,” said NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz. That said, the second season head coach added, “No matter who we’re playing, we’re still playing for a Big 12 Conference championship. We want to play to our level, not to the level of our opponents. Centennial has a lot of young guys. I was just proud of how our guys went about our approach and went about our business taking care of all three phases of the game.

NCHS travels to conference leader Peoria High Friday to close out the regular season. The Lions, at 7-1, present the Ironmen with “so many challenges on the offensive side of the ball,” Drengwitz said. “Defensively, they do some unique things which also provides a challenge, I think.”

“We told our guys Normal Community was a good football team,” explained first season Champaign Centennial Kyle Jackson. He admits his team is “pretty young and pretty inexperienced, so we’re focusing on growing, and building the culture, and getting better. We knew Oliver was good and he was going to make his reads and make the right reads of our defense and we tried to throw some different defensive things at him.”

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