St. Ignatius smothers Grayslake Central in 2nd round
Grayslake Central came into Friday night's Class 6A playoff game against St. Ignatius with quite a bit of momentum.
The Rams had won their last two games in thrilling fashion, both 1-point wins, 40-39 against Lakes (the regular season finale) and 28-27 over Belvidere North (in the opening round of the postseason).
Unfortunately though, against the Wolfpack, GC didn't put themselves in any type of position for further heroics.
Visiting St. Ignatius controlled the game from start to finish in a 49-13 victory over the 12th-seeded Rams.
The Wolfpack didn't complete a single pass Friday, but used an ultra-strong running attack to secure the victory. St. Ignatius rushed for 466 yards and 7 touchdowns.
"Our whole scheme is to just run the ball hard and physical," said Wolfpack fullback William Barnett, "and I think we did the job tonight."
Rams coach Michael Maloney couldn't help but agree with that assessment.
"I'm a graduate of the Catholic League (Joliet Catholic)," said Maloney, "so I know what hard-nosed option football looks like. Two things jump off the page when I watch them, discipline and effort."
But despite the loss, Maloney had nothing but praise for the season-long effort of his team, which for the second consecutive season were able to host a home second round playoff contest.
GC finished the year at 7-4.
"This has become an expectation around here," added the coach of the Rams' no-quit, never-say-die approach. "We believe in playing Ram tough football. There are certain standards that it takes to be a championship caliber team. We're not quite there yet, but we're well on our way."
The highlight of the night for the Rams was the record-setting achievement of senior Kaiden Miller.
After a 7-yard gain early in the game, it was announced the Miller had broken the GC single season rushing record, which had stood at 1,356 yards.
Miller just tacked on from there in a tremendous performance, rushing for 181 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown run on his final carry.
To top it off, the senior threw a TD pass in the second quarter on a halfback option.
Maloney said that Miller also holds school records for most career touchdown receptions, most career rushing TDs, and also is tops in receiving yardage.
"He's probably statistically the greatest player ever to walk the halls here," said Maloney. "I'm extremely fortunate to have been a part of his career."
"It's been a joy to watch him grow and develop as a young man. He has a tremendous future ahead of him and I'm just so fortunate to have been able to witness and work with him during this time in his life."
The Rams defense went toe to toe with the Wolfpack in the early going, with Connor Flood, Jacob DeLeon, Dom Pavell and Matthew Jens all making some strong tackles, but the St. Ignatius offensive line eventually wore the GC defense down.
The Rams O-line, meanwhile, including Thomas Newman, Alvaro Stoyanov, and Andy Galan, jelled in the second stanza. They helped lead GC on a long drive which culminated in Miller's 22-yard TD pass to Garrett Guenther.
Guenther finished the night with 5 catches for 57 yards.
"They're a really good team," added the Wolfpack's Barnett of Grayslake Central. "They fought hard, they're all good players, but we just happened to get the better of them this time."