Janke's 3 TDs lead Huntley past Niles West
Huntley running back Haiden Janke burst up the middle for 29 yards, nearly scoring his fourth touchdown of the game before being dragged down at Niles West's 6-yard line with 2 minutes remaining.
Janke jumped up and flexed his biceps toward the Red Raiders' crowd.
"I was ready to run my butt off and have a good time," Janke said. "I was celebrating a little bit, it was a playoff victory. I wanted to have a good time."
No. 8-seeded Huntley experienced some anxious moments earlier in the game, but played a strong second half to put away the No. 25 Wolves 26-14 in their Class 8A playoff game Friday at Red Raider Stadium.
The Red Raiders (9-1) will travel to No. 24 St. Ignatius (7-3) for the second round. The Wolfpack defeated Joliet West 39-6 on Friday.
"Our whole theme this season has been finding different ways to win," Huntley coach Mike Naymola said. "We've been able to hold leads or come from behind. Being able to battle through a difficult first half and stay together and play a solid second half, credit to the defense for shutting them out in the second half.
"We were able to do just enough. It wasn't perfect, but we got it done."
The Wolves (6-4), in the postseason for the first time since 2014, scored first and did not trail until Huntley scored late in the third quarter on Janke's 1-yard run.
The crushing play for the Wolves came early in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-8 from their 30. Punter Andre Budimir barely got the ball off his foot as the Raiders' Zack Garifo blocked it. The ball deflected high and rolled into the end zone, where Huntley's Travis Dudycha fell on it for a 26-14 lead.
"That really shifted everything. That took the life out of them and boosted our confidence," Garifo said. "I was getting close all night. I kind of had a little double team, but the snap hung up in the air a little bit. I was going to tackle the punter or I was blocking it. I kind of did both.
"I just got up looking around for the ball. The ball went right off my stomach and I took his leg off my leg. I saw everyone running for the ball."
For Dudycha, a sophomore defensive end, it was his first touchdown.
"I saw him block the punt and I sprinted and dived on the ball," Dudycha said. "That's my first actual touchdown. It was a big momentum change for us to win the game."
Janke finished with 32 carries for 152 yards and his fifth three-touchdown game of the season. Huntley's last playoff victory came in the first round of the Class 8A 2019 playoffs against Chicago Taft.
Naymola credited defensive coordinator Paul Reinke for the halftime adjustments the Raiders made. They allowed 50 yards after halftime.
"We made some adjustments and really stifled them a little bit," Naymola said. "We were giving up too much in the running game in the first half and it really came down to tackling. At the point of attack we weren't finishing. We did that a lot better in the second half.
"Even though it was tied at halftime, I felt good because I didn't think we played very well in the first half."
West coach Nick Torresso liked the way his team came out in the first half.
"Our kids played the way we expected them to. Our game plan was solid," Torresso said. "They're a great, physical football team that has been together for some time.
"We just made mental errors tonight that proved we're still not ready to beat good football teams. Credit to them, they played a great game, but we had opportunities and didn't capitalize on them. That's the name of the game. We just have to get better."