Hilltoppers, Williams, Schlageter rally past feisty Benet 42-20

Drake Skleba for Joliet Catholic Academy
Webster defines it as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune”
After one quarter of the No.1-ranked Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers (8-0), CCL-ESCC crossover game with Benet Academy (4-4), the host Redwings led 13-0.
On the sideline with an injury, was the Hilltoppers dual-threat quarterback Aidan Voss. Hilltopper All-American, Jordan Anderson (six carries, 16 yards, TD, one reception, 24 yards), was suffering from an ankle injury, that severely hampered his running ability
On the defensive side, “The Hill” was playing their first game without their All-State linebacker Robby Purchase III. Adversity with a capital A.
Enter junior quarterback T.J. Schlageter.
Schlageter led the Hilltoppers down the field. With 10:11 left in the first half, senior running back Vinny Iannantone (33 carries, 174 yards, 2 TD), would crash in for a five-yard touchdown. After “Mr. Automatic”, Hilltopper sophomore, place-kicker Pat Durkin’s, first of seven points-after-touchdowns, “The Hill” trailed 13-7.
The Hill “D” steps up Big Time, again
Senior defensive back, Ian Williams would come up with a game-changing interception, at the Redwing 22-yard line. 70 seconds later, Iannantone would rumble into the end zone from one-yard out and the Hilltoppers would grab the 14-13 lead, they would not relinquish.
“Last week Malachi (Hood) came up with the game-changing interception,” Williams said. “This week I had to do it. It felt great to get the pick and it felt even better when we scored a minute later to grab the lead and dug- out of the 13-0 hole.”
A 24-yard pass reception from Schlageter to Anderson, set up Jordan’s 13th touchdown of the year, from one yard out for a 21-13 Hill lead, at the half.
Benet came out of their halftime locker room on fire.
The Redwings, scored on a 60-yard scoring strike from Redwing quarterback Antonio Picciolini (9-for-22, 123 yards, 2 TD; six carries -12 yards rushing, TD) to wide receiver Ryan Snell (three catches, 84 yards, 2 TD), to pull the feisty ‘Wings within 21-20 with 8:17 left in the third quarter.
Schlageter to Fieldman
With 5:54 left in the third quarter, Schlageter fired a 22-yard scoring strike to Hilltopper wide receiver-deluxe, Jake Fieldman (3 catches, 50 yards, TD), for a 28-20 Hilltopper lead.
Fieldman finishes off the feisty Redwings
With 2:45 left in the third quarter, this reporter said “Come on Jake bust one.”
“Ask and you shall receive” as Fieldman fielded the Redwing punt and raced 65-yards to “the house”, for a 35-20 Hilltopper lead, with the 2:30 left in the third quarter.
“TJ (Schlageter) really stepped up for us tonight,” Fieldman said. “TJ threw a great pass on the 22-yard touchdown to me. On the 65-yard punt return, all my blockers made it very easy for me to race to the end zone.”
With 7:21 left in the game, Schlageter, did a tremendous imitation of the elusive Aidan Voss, when he finished off the game scoring with a five-yard touchdown run.
“It was simply electric for me to come into the game,” Schlageter said. “I have been working so hard to be totally prepared for this moment. Jake Fieldman is a great receiver and made a great catch on our 22-yard touchdown, Jake then busts the game open with his 65-yard punt return. I can run a little bit and it felt great to get the five-yard touchdown run.”
“We started the game a little sluggish,” Iannantone said. “We had a little let-down after the big win at Brother Rice. With no locker room here we had to stand in the rain, prior to the game. In the first quarter everything that could go wrong, did.
“T.J. did a great job for us. Once again, all my success running the ball tonight, I owe to “The Hogs””
“Our defense had to make a number of adjustments due to our injuries,” Hilltopper All-State linebacker Mike Rouse said. “I had to move over into Robby’s spot. Niko Wilhelm, moved into my spot. Ian’s huge interception turned things around for us. TJ really helped us tonight.
“We stated out sluggish tonight but really bounced back from adversity and rolled to the win. 8-0. Right where we want to be.”
“We faced a lot of adversity and I am very proud of how we once again reacted to it to win the game going away,” Hilltopper head football coach Jake Jaworski said. “Ian Williams’ discipline, led to his game changing interception.”
“TJ Schlageter was the next man up and really stepped up for us. Jake Fieldman is an amazing athlete. Vinny had another big game for us.
“We have to quit taking punches in the first quarter. We have to get healthy and get better each week. We have to come off the bus with fire in our eyes,” Jaworski concluded.

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