A sewage plant situated close to Momence High School unexpectedly provided the ideal backdrop for Friday night’s contest between the host Redskins and Chicago Christian.
“It stunk,” Knights coach Jim Bolhuis said, “and the teams stunk. [At] the beginning of the game, both teams were awful.
“From our point, it was mostly missed blocks and missed assignments. We were making some [mental] mistakes, but they were fumbling snaps and dropping the ball. I think both teams were dealing with inexperience, but it was a very messy first half.”
Momence, though, cleaned up its act right before intermission, scoring twice within a short span to break a 7-all tie and establish a 21-7 lead for itself. Christian never recovered from that brief flurry and wound up getting tagged with a 41-7 setback.
The Redskins also beat the Knights soundly in a 2012 encounter in Palos Heights, but Bolhuis felt his squad exited this latest game in better shape than it did from the 56-12 affair of a year ago.
“What came out of it for us [now] is that our kids gained a ton of good experience,” he said. “We’re more seasoned and prepared [after this]. Last year, we came out of it hurting.”
In a physical sense, Christian (1-1) didn’t emerge completely unscathed from this latest matchup, either, as Kendall Evans suffered a bruised hip in the opening half. While the senior is expected to be ready for Friday’s home opener versus Wheaton-St. Francis, his absence was keenly felt by a team whose roster is not overstocked.
“Some of the kids who would [normally] fill in played in the JV game,” Bolhuis said. “We had players playing out of position and there was a domino effect.”
Despite the problems, the Knights stonewalled an early threat by Momence with a caused fumble. Not only did the turnover prevent the Redskins from extending a 7-0 lead, but it enabled Christian to pull even with its hosts as freshman Josh Hill returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown.
The score remained unchanged through most of the second period, but then Momence struck on consecutive possessions. Redskins quarterback Aaron Cantwell’s 22-yard pass to Blake Lawrence put the home team back on top, then after the Knights failed to get off a fourth-down punt Momence began another series deep in Christian territory.
Tailback Leanthony Reasnover provided an eventual payoff with his 6-yard run and the Redskins took a 21-7 edge into halftime with them.
“They got it together,” Bolhuis said of Momence. “[The Redskins] were feeling, I’m sure, that they should have been up by more than 14-7 [prior to that], but they didn’t have anything going on in the first half. Had we been able to hold it together and keep our composure in the first half, it might have been different [in the end].”
The Knights actually got better in the second half as well, but didn’t have anything concrete to show for that improvement. Christian embarked on a couple promising treks, one of which brought it inside Momence’s 5 during the third stanza, but a fumble ruined that potential scoring opportunity and left the visitors in arrears by 14.
The Redskins then stretched their lead out further on Reasnover’s 21-yard burst and pretty much wrapped up the decision. One more touchdown catch by Lawrence in the fourth quarter and Tre Spears’ pick six finalized the verdict. The latter returned his interception 20 yards.
Both clubs committed four miscues, but Momence prevailed largely because of outgaining the Knights by nearly 250 yards. That happened in spite of Christian’s running 16 more offensive plays than its foe.
One week after assaulting North Lawndale with over 150 rushing yards, Colby Roundtree was limited to 24, which still ranked as a team-leading total on the ground. He also caught five passes for 45 yards, while Justin Downs hauled in six Christian Bolhuis throws for 42 more yards.
Bolhuis was the Knights’ top defender with five solo stops, five assists and one-half tackle for loss. Clay Bouquet (three solos, two assists, one tackle for loss), Brandon Schmidt (one solo, five assists) and Roundtree (three solos) were other notables on that side of the ball.
As for Christian’s next foe, Coach Bolhuis admitted “a great challenge” awaits his guys.
“Wheaton-St. Francis runs a pro-style offense and we are going to have to buckle down and play smash-mouth football,” he said. “It’s back to basics and a great scheme to prepare us for what’s ahead.”
Chgo. Christian 0 7 0 0 - 7
Momence 7 14 7 13 - 41
Yds. rushing 36 185
Yds. passing 113 205
Total yds. 149 390
Att./comp. 29-16 14-10
Fumbles/lost 1-1 4-4
Had intercepted 3 0
Penalties/yds. 9-72 5-45
Punts/avg. 7-23.9 1-25.0
MO — Zach Hamman, 16-yd. pass from Aaron Cantwell (Jon Salazar kick)
CC — Josh Hill, 70-yd. fumble return (Jeremy Slager Evans kick)
MO — Blake Lawrence, 22-yd. pass from Cantwell (Salazar kick)
MO — Leanthony Reasnover, 6-yd. run (Salazar kick)
MO — Reasnover, 21-yd. run (Salazar kick)
MO — Lawrence, 15-yd. pass from Cantwell (Salazar kick)
MO — Tre Spears, 20-yd. interception return (kick failed)
Chicago Christian Rushing: Roundtree 14-24, Bolhuis 8-7, Rattler 4-5. Passing: Bolhuis 29-16-113. Receiving: Downs 6-42, Roundtree 5-45, De Vries 2-12, Bruinius 1-5, Evans 1-5, Santarelli 1-4.