ROCHELLE – Besides Kaneland, Montini, Joliet Catholic and Woodstock Marian, there is now a dark horse candidate to be added to the upper bracket of potential state finalists in Class 5A football.
In a game many thought to be a toss-up, No. 9 seed Lincoln-Way West, a school only 4 years old, completely dominated No. 8 Rochelle 35-0 in the first round of the IHSA playoffs.
Before the Hubs (6-4) even gained a first down, the Warriors (7-3) were ahead 14-0 on a pair of Rich Kruis rushing touchdowns.
“They were a very well-coached team,” Rochelle coach Kevin Crandall said. “They played hard and were ready.”
Rochelle struggled all night getting its vaunted running attack going.
In its lowest offensive output of the year, the Hubs, who averaged 34 points a game, were held to 115 yards rushing.
One positive, though, was junior Marques Felix going over 1,000 yards on the year with 43 hard-fought yards on 13 carries against the stingy Warrior defense.
Hub fullback Tony Walsh finished with 972 yards, but left the field on a stretcher in the second half.
“We knew this would be a tough one; they are very physical,” Felix said.
Rochelle starting quarterback Angel Burciaga also went down in the second half with a rib injury, and starting tight end Keegan Akers, who led Rochelle with two catches for 24 yards, was lost in the first half with a leg injury.
In the second quarter, Javier Montalvo had touchdown runs of 21 and 37 yards, staking Lincoln-Way to a 28-0 lead at half.
Montalvo was installed as a starter three games ago and ran all over the Hubs’ defense, totaling 203 yards on 18 rushes.
In the first half, Rochelle offense spent most of its time on its side of the field, as the Warriors’ defenders met Rochelle ballcarriers at the line of scrimmage and forced numerous third-and-long situations.
“This team could make a nice run the rest of way,” Rochelle defensive coordinator Chris Lewis said in his radio post-game interview. “They improved quite a bit from the beginning of the year.”
Tyler Vogeler led the Hubs with nine tackles.