Bradley Bourbonnais grounds St. Charles North
Whenever quarterback Ethan Kohl needed to make a momentum-changing play, the other 10 around him did their part to see it succeed.
Kohl just needed to trust it would happen. The rest took care of itself.
The cohesion and bond was evident in their 38-21 victory over St. Charles North in the Class 7A bracket opener on Saturday.
"I've been playing with these guys since I was 6," said Kohl, who finished with two passing touchdowns and three rushing scores on 13 completions for 180 yards and 51 rushing yards.
"All these guys, we've all been on the same team since we were 6. We've always thought this was going to be the group to make a run, and hopefully, that's what ends up happening."
The Boilermakers (7-3) are off to the positive start to make that happen. B-B travels to Normal next week for the second round.
"It just feels really good to beat a good football team," B-B coach Mike Kohl said. "Our kids really prepared all week. We had a great week in practice; the weather was awesome and our kids showed up every day and ready to go. It was a huge win for our program. People don't realize how hard it is to win a 7A playoff game against a team like SCN. They play in a really good conference, so I was really proud of our offense. I thought Ethan made some big throws in tight windows and ran the ball well."
The North Stars (6-4) took the initial 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Plumb that was set up by a successful fake field goal by Hunter Liszka two plays earlier to move the chains.
Kohl and the offense had a response.
After driving into the red zone, Kohl initially lobbed a touchdown to Gavin Kohl for a 22-yard score, but an ineligible man downfield negated it. Kohl quickly rebounded for a 27-yard touchdown to Tyran Bender to tie the game seconds into the second quarter.
On the Boilermakers' last drive of the first half, Kenvontae Sutton exploded for a 65-yard gain to set up Kohl for a 1-yard score to make it 14-7 Bradley-Bourbonnais at the half.
The North Stars tied the game at 14 on Plumb's 5-yard score with 9:14 remaining in the third quarter, but the Boilermakers answered on Ellis Johnson's field goal to retake the lead.
Then, the Boilermakers' defense really began to stiffen.
Two plays into the ensuing SCN drive, running back Joell Holloman fumbled, which was recovered by Alan Rogers. The North Stars eventually forced a turnover on downs, but couldn't generate much on their next drive, either.
The Boilermakers led 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, and pounced on their chance to add more points. Ethan Kohl connected with Bender for an electric 71-yard touchdown to make it a 10-point game. Plumb was then promptly intercepted by linebacker AJ Mancilla after a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage.
Ethan Kohl took in a 4-yard rushing touchdown on a bootleg to make it 31-14 B-B with 6:52 remaining.
Plumb and the North Stars battled for one more touchdown, a 31-yard answer to Keaton Reinke, but Ethan Kohl's 35-yard rushing score was the ultimate dagger to close for B-B.
"Our defensive line: we've got all seniors up front. Mike linebacker, Mancilla, is a really tough kid, so I feel like our defense is kind of on a threshold to play really well," Mike Kohl said. "We put it all together. You talk about playing the best game Week 10 and I felt like we played really clean."
Plumb finished with 168 passing yards on 15 completions. Reinke had three catches for 48 yards for SCN.
"B-B is a really good football team. Coach Kohl does a great job. They made more big plays than we did," North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. "The explosive plays killed us on defense, and we can't have three plays over 60 yards for 21 points; can't give up a touchdown with in the last 30 seconds of the first half. And, then, they did a nice job defensively combating our high-powered offense, so tip of the hat. Great job to them."