HUNTLEY – Even with five victories, Huntley knew it needed a win in Week 9 to assure itself a playoff spot. The Red Raiders were low on playoff points and would have been on the bubble if they finished the season 5-4.
So they approached Friday’s Fox Valley Conference matchup against Dundee-Crown as a do-or-die game.
“Everybody had the same mindset going into the game,” running back Ryder Havens said. “This is our playoff game. If we don’t win, we’re out. If we do win, we keep going. Everybody came in and we did our jobs.”
Everything went Huntley’s way in a 55-12 victory over D-C. The loss eliminates D-C (4-5, 3-5) from playoff contention. Huntley (6-3, 6-2) will learn its Class 8A first-round opponent Saturday night.
The Red Raiders drove 65 yards in two minutes on the opening possession, and Havens punched in the first of his three touchdown runs.
The sophomore finished with 152 yards and three scores on 12 carries. Along the way, he surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season.
“We set the tempo early with our offense, being able to run the ball and hit those short passes,” Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. “That really put us in a good place.”
The defense forced a punt on D-C’s first possession and Huntley drove
87 yards in about three minutes. Connor Fitzgerald capped the drive with a 6-yard score.
On the first play back on the field, D-C quarterback Josh Raby threw an interception to Huntley linebacker Michael Talesky, who ran it back
39 yards for a touchdown.
The onslaught was officially on.
“When Talesky’s in the game, he’s just a force for us,” Zimolzak said of the senior linebacker. “He’s an unbelievable player and a tremendous asset to have. He can turn the game around. He’s a student of the game, and he gets right where he needs to be on every play.”
Huntley went on to score seven first-half touchdowns, including two pick-six interceptions. The Red Raiders led, 48-0, at halftime.
Defensive back Michael Boland scored the other defensive touchdown on a 45-yard interception return.
Factoring in two sacks and a 28-yard loss on a botched punt attempt, Huntley held D-C to negative 18 rushing yards in the first half and 67 yards through the air.
For D-C, the 2018 season came up one win short. The Chargers had enough playoff points to qualify for the postseason with a victory Friday.
“It’s disappointing for the kids,” D-C coach Mike Steinhaus said. “We had such a good time with them. We wanted to keep the family together. It was just fun. We had a really good week of practice, too. The kids were having fun.”
Although they came up short of the playoffs, the Chargers made 2018 only their second season in the past 20 years with four wins or more.
Raby, a senior, had a better second half. He finished 14-of-27 passing for 223 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jack Michalski caught both D-C touchdown passes.