Knights rally to top North Lawndale
At historic Lane Stadium, Chicago Christian painted an encouraging picture of its immediate future Saturday afternoon.
On the surface, the Knights’ 20-18 vanquishing of host North Lawndale appeared less inspiring than their 2012 season-opening drubbing of the Phoenix. But that previous win was garnered while Christian enjoyed the comforts of home and, in coach Jim Bolhuis’ opinion, it really didn’t prove a heck of a lot.
“Last year, it was a blitzkrieg in the first half and then we just finished the game out,” the third-year leader said. “This year, we had to withstand the onslaught. It was a war and our kids were just hanging on the rest of the game.”
By “rest of the game,” Bolhuis meant after the Knights jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Scoring on two of its first three series, Christian seemed on the verge of enjoying another romp.
Unfortunately for Bolhuis, his athletes might have been thinking along those very same lines.
“By that time, our kids thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy,’” Bolhuis said. “But the other team said, ‘That’s enough of that.’”
The Knights didn’t stop moving the ball, but their scoring ceased, at least until the fourth period. Shoved in arrears for the first time when North Lawndale broke off a 63-yard scoring run in the early portion of that last stanza, Christian “had to buckle down” and then proceeded to do so by responding with a 12-yard Christian Bolhuis-to-Jacob Bruinius touchdown pass that created the winning margin.
“It was a great experience for our kids,” Coach Bolhuis said. “It was a classic setting — you could see the Sears Tower off to the right — and a really cool atmosphere. [The game] was a little hectic, but I really enjoyed being up there.”
The younger Bolhuis did his part to foster those good feelings by accounting for both of the Knights’ first-half TDs on dashes of 2 and 5 yards. However, while Bolhuis hit the payoffs, doing most of the heavy lifting for a ground-oriented Chicago Christian attack was Colby Roundtree.
Roundtree, who split time at tailback in 2012, demonstrated that he’s fully capable of being this year’s main man as he rushed for 153 yards on 25 totes. Sophomore Luke Rattler was an able accomplice with 63 yards on 14 carries.
“It was encouraging to see how well the running backs ran — they were tough,” Coach Bolhuis said. “We were on the game plan the whole game, and one thing that was consistent was Colby Roundtree’s running. Colby was the show [and] that was impressive.
“Our talent level is about the same [as last year’s]; the inexperience is what’s different. Our inexperienced guys were learning on the go, but the kids that did have experience used it. Those guys stepped up and showed leadership, and the other guys rallied around them.”
For a while, that scenario worked to perfection, but the Phoenix weren’t going away without a fight. A long pass completion gave North Lawndale’s offense a much-needed jump-start after the hosts had fallen behind by two touchdowns, and when halftime arrived, the Phoenix trailed by only eight points.
Chicago Christian narrowly missed regaining some of that lost edge at the end of the second quarter, when it ventured inside the North Lawndale 10. A lack of time did in the Knights, however.
Bolhuis said halftime was “very instructive. [It] was just a matter of getting our heads on straight and getting focused.” But even though Christian continued to ride Roundtree’s legs to positive yardage in the third frame, things tended to suddenly bog down for the visitors whenever they threatened to inflict more harm on the Phoenix.
“[After] all the good stuff we started off with, we were kind of falling apart,” Bolhuis said.
Luckily for the Knights, their defense was still standing tall. North Lawndale also failed to cross the goal line in the third quarter, thanks largely to the efforts of Rattler (three solo stops, one assist, 1½ tackles for loss) and Justin Downs (one solo, two assists, one-half tackle for loss). Jeff Oprondek and Clay Bouquet each contributed one negative-yardage play by making a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
On a somewhat humid day, Christian’s prevention corps was spared long stints on the field by a Knights offense that ran 81 plays, 32 more than the Phoenix. Christian outgained North Lawndale by 102 yards overall.
The Knights take to the road again on Friday, this time heading south down Interstate 57 to visit Momence.
Chgo. Christian 6 8 0 6 - 20
North Lawndale 0 6 0 12 - 18
Yds. rushing 259 96
Yds. passing 59 120
Total yds. 318 216
Att./comp. 17-7 15-7
Fumbles/lost 1-0 0-0
Had intercepted 0 0
Penalties/yds. 4-25 9-65
Punts/avg. 2-27.5 3-30.7
CC — Christian Bolhuis, 2-yd. run (kick failed)
CC — Bolhuis, 5-yd. run (Luke Rattler run)
CC — Jacob Bruinius, 12-yd. pass from Bolhuis (kick failed)
Chicago Christian Rushing: Roundtree 25-153, Rattler 14-63, Bolhuis 10-48, Evans 1-(-5). Passing: Bolhuis 17-7-59. Receiving: Evans 3-34, Roundtree 2-1, Bruinius 1-12, De Vries 1-12.