By Jason Maholy
Evergreen Park keeps improving, and its sophomore backfield tandem is playing a major part in that.
Devin Turner threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns, James Williams burned the Oak Lawn defense for 95 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries, and the Mustangs defeated the rival Spartans, 23-0, on Sept. 13.
Evergreen Park has won two straight since being shut out 32-0 by Wilmington on opening night. Oak Lawn fell to 0-3 in Harold Blackmon’s first year at the helm.
Turner, the Mustangs’ quarterback, and Williams, a running back, are both sophomores who were brought up to varsity for the playoffs last season, and contributed to two victories. Evergreen Park fell to eventual Class 5A runner-up Montini in the quarterfinals, but returned the two sophomores and several seniors who were important pieces in 2018.
Mustangs coach Jerry Verde is high on Turner and Williams, who will be the cornerstones of the offense moving forward and will be seasoned veterans by the start of their junior years.
Turner must cut down on his turnovers – he threw an interception and fumbled twice against Oak Lawn – but he is a dual threat who is gaining experience early and developing as a passer while having success. He completed 13 of 23 passes and added 54 yards rushing against the Spartans.
Among the upperclassmen are junior Matt Walsh and seniors Sean Wilkinson and Jack Manso. Walsh, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound wide receiver, caught four passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Wilkinson, a versatile player who can play every skill position on offense, had five receptions for 72 yards and a score. He added 28 yards rushing on three carries.
Manso made the most of his touches, with two carries for 19 yards and one reception for 25 yards.
Joliet Catholic 33, St. Laurence 32
Sophomore running back Nate Thomas ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns, and Darius Wilson accounted for 277 yards and two scores, but the Hilltoppers blocked a game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds and edged the Vikings at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Sept. 13.
Among Thomas’ 30 carries were touchdown runs of one, six and eight yards. Wilson, a junior quarterback, had a 33-yard scoring run and a 78-yard touchdown pass to Brailyn Johnson.
Jalen Hamilton caught three passes for 52 yards and Aaron Wofford grabbed three for 47 yards.
Defending Class 5A state champion Joliet Catholic gouged St. Laurence on the ground. Jordan Anderson had 19 carries for 240 yards and three touchdowns – including a 53-yard burst – and Kenyatta Williams had 117 yards and two scores on 20 totes.
Senior defensive tackle Sean Burns contributed four tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery, and Ryan Carroll had three tackles and a fumble recovery.
Notre Dame 21, Marist 14
A stout Dons defense limited the RedHawks offense to 230 yards and held them scoreless in the second half en rout to a huge victory in Niles.
Marist quarterback Dontrell Jackson completed 6 of 7 passes for just 42 yards, and Hayden Mikesell was 8-for-15 for 80 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Mikesell was the team’s leading rusher with 58 yards on seven carries, but the RedHawks managed only 108 yards on the ground on 28 plays.
The game was tied at 14 at halftime. Notre Dame scored on its first possession of the second half, a drive that concluded with junior quarterback Anthony Sayles scoring on a 20-yard run.
The Marist defense played well, but not well enough on a night the offense was held in check after scoring two first-half touchdowns. Senior linebacker Colin Bohanek had six solo tackles, 11 assists and forced a fumble, and senior Marty Howard recovered a fumble and had one tackle for loss.