MONMOUTH – A dominant running game got Polo to the finals of the Illinois 8-Man Football Association championship game.
Some more of that, along with a stout run defense, got the Marcos title.
Polo dominated from start to finish in posting a 50-26 victory against Milford-Cissna Park on Nov. 22 at Monmouth College. It earned the Marcos (12-0) a title in their first year of 8-man football, and it is also the school’s first team state championship of any sort.
“It feels amazing,” senior quarterback/defensive end Tucker Mumford said. “We knew we had the manpower, and we just had to use it to get the job done. We did that tonight.”
Polo coach Jeff Bumsted is going to retire at the end of the school year, and it was his players’ mission to send him out in style. They did just that, though Bumsted’s thoughts were not on himself.
“I’m happy for the kids, I really am extremely happy for them,” Bumsted said. “There’s no better feeling for me, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for them, being in high school and knowing that you’re a state champion. It’s the best thing that can happen to our team and to our program.”
Polo was a dominant force all night. It scored on its first four possessions of the first half, and nearly on a fifth just before halftime after pouncing on a Milford-Cissna Park fumble.
It was more of the same in the second half, with touchdowns on its first three possessions. A punishing running game that produced 417 yards did the trick.
“The number one thing we wanted to do was win the coin toss, which we did,” Bumsted said. “We wanted to receive, and we wanted to score every time we touched the ball, and we basically did that. We never punted. We never turned the ball over. That’s what won the game for us. Their offense didn’t have the ball, and ours did.”
Jace Coffey scored on touchdown runs of 34 and 57 yards, and also caught a 9-yard TD pass from Mumford. Alex Davies opened the scoring with a 23-yard run not even 2 minutes into the game, and Mumford had TD runs of 6 and 1 yards.
Even when something went bad for the Polo offense, it came out smelling like a rose. Davies had a ball stripped near the M-CP goalline, and Joey Bardell was there to pounce on it for a score.
Coffey was the ringleader with 21 carries for 233 yards, while Davies added 20 rushes for 117 yards. Coffey credited the line of center Brady Clark, guards Cole Faivre and Julian Warczak, and ends Bardell and Scott Prerost with paving the way.
“I can’t take any credit, I honestly can’t,” Coffey said. “Yeah, I had a few broken tackles, but our line was amazing, and Tucker made amazing reads.”
Milford-Cissna Park (11-1) found success in the combination of quarterback Penn Stoller throwing to wide receiver Keegan Boyle. They hooked up for TD passes of 53, 35, 29 and 13 yards, but that was about it.
Stoller, who rushed for more than 1,400 yards entering the game, had just 62 yards on nine carries. As a team, the Bearcats had 18 carries for 88 yards.
“We knew if we could take the run away, they weren’t going to move the ball as much as they usually do,” Mumford said.
Milford-Cissna Park coach Clint Schwartz downplayed the one-dimensional offense his team was reduced to most of the night.
“We didn’t so much care that they took away the run game,” Schwartz said. “We’ll throw the ball every single time if we have to. Our guys did a good job. They fought to the end. Polo just made more plays than we did.”
8-man state championship
Polo 50, Milford-Cissna Park 26
Star of the game: Jace Coffey, Polo, 21 carries, 233 yards, 2 TDs; 1 rec. TD
Key performers: Alex Davies, Polo 20-117, TD; Keegan Boyle, M-CP, 8 receptions, 110 yards, 4 TD