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The Illini West Charger football team hosted a motivated Sherrard Tiger squad last Friday night at Carthages' Fuzz Bergs Field. Sherrard came in needing a win to stay in the hunt for a 2010 play-off bid. The Tigers dream of post-season play were not be, however, as Illini West took an early lead and never faltered on their way to a 46-13 victory.
The host Chargers, ranked #1 in the Illinois Class 3-A polls, improved to 9-0 on the season and 8-0 in the West Central Conference. The victory gave IW the outright WCC championship and the Chargers have now won 27 consecutive regular season games.
Illini West came out fast on "Senior Night" and scored on all four of its first half possessions on the way to a 32-7 halftime advantage. Only a Tiger touchdown on the last play of the half prevented Sherrard from being scoreless prior to intermission.
The Chargers first score came on a 20-yard pass from senior quarterback Zane Schmudlach to his twin brother, Drake, at the 9:00 minute mark of the first quarter. Senior halfback Ser Whitaker added the successful 2-point conversion run for an early 8-0 IW lead.
Illini West added a second score on a 26-yard Whitaker run about 7 minutes later at the 1:57 mark of the first period. Drake Schmudlach tacked on the conversion run for a 16-0 Charger edge.
The Charger defense got the ball right back for the IW offense when senior defensive back Kevin Bray picked off an errant Tiger toss at midfield. Drake Schmudlach went in from 1-yard out to cap the short scoring drive to start the second quarter. Zane Schmudlach added the conversion run for a 24-0 Charger advantage. Illini West would score one more time before halftime, this time via the pass as Zane Schmudlach hit senior tight end Dylan Pieper on a 32-yard toss straight down the middle of the field. Whitaker added another run for the conversion and a 32-0 Illini West lead.
The Chargers would score twice more after the break on a pair of runs. The first came on a 26-yard Whitaker dash, while the second came on a 2-yard blast by senior fullback Kyle Huss. Zane Schmudlach converted a 2-point run after the second TD to give IW a 46-7 lead. A 4th quarter by Sherrard set the final score at 46-13.
The overall statistics reflected the dominance by the Chargers in this contest. The Chargers picked up 398 total yards on 50 total plays, while holding Sherrard to 202 yards on 53 plays. Illini West rushed 45 times for 346 yards and also threw for an additional 52 yards.
The Illini West defense and defensive fronts controlled the line of scrimmage throughout this game. The defensive line of Chris Beaver and Kyle Huss at nose tackle; Ethan Lillard, Jacob Jacoby, and Brian Lafferty at defensive tackle, and Kayden Guyman and Dylan Van Fleet at defensive ends, held strong against the Tiger rush while still providing consistent pressure on the Sherrard QB.
The Illini West offensive line did its part as well throughout this game. They opened gaping holes in the Sherrard defense for Charger runners to exploit, while also giving good protection on the rare, but effective, occasions that Zane Schmudlach dropped back to pass. Center Jacob Jacoby, guards Mason Beals and Jack Carlisle, tackles Dylan Van Fleet and Brian Lafferty, and tight ends Colin Beals, Dylan Pieper, and Chris Holtsclaw were physical and effective throughout this game.
Individually, the leading Charger rusher was Drake Schmudlach with 122 yards on 10 carries. Kyle Huss added 88 yards on 16 carries, while Ser Whitaker picked up 84 yards on 5 attempts. Junior Sonny Little had 3 carries for 30 yards, while Kyle Miller had 4 for 20. Rounding out the IW ground attack was Erick Klein with a single carry for 9 yards, and Shane Wood with one attempt for 2 yards.
Zane Schmudlach attempted 5 passes in this game with 2 completions for 52 yards. He threw two touchdowns and did not throw an interception. The catches were by Drake Schmudlach for 20 yards and Dylan Pieper for 32 yards.
The Charger defense was headed up by the performance of defensive backs Jack Bastert (8 total tackles and 2 passes deflected), and Kevin Bray (6 total tackles and an interception). Defensive tackle Jacob Jacoby had a pretty big night as well with 4 total tackles, including two big tackles for loss.
The Charger tackle chart also saw linebacker Jack Carlisle post 6 total tackles, defensive tackle Ethan Lillard record 5 stops, defensive back Cody Carson had 4 tackles, and linebacker Brandon Gehle posted 4 tackles as well.
Others on the IW tackle chart were Hayden Fox (3 tackles), Dakota McKeown (3), Dylan Van Fleet (3), Conner Beals (2), Sonny Little (2), Kayden Guymon (2), Chris Beaver (2), Travis Cox (2), Kyle Palmer (1), Brian Lafferty (1), Steven Miller (1), and Coulton Wascher (1).
The Chargers will now return to action this Friday night when they open play in the Illniois High School Association Class 3-A playoffs. The Chargers are a top seed and as such will host a first round game against the 8th seeded New Berlin co-op. New Berlin is from the Springfield area and co-ops football with Waverly and Franklin. The Pretzels finished at 5-4 overall and a 3-4 (4th place) in the Sangamon Conference. They scored 234 points (26 overage) and gave up 194 points (21.5) during the regular season. They are a pass-first team with a QB averaging 226 yards per game through the air. Kick-off for this game is set for 7:00 p.m. at Fuzz Berges Field.