Game Preview: No.1 Hilltoppers host Wheaton Academy in IHSA Class 4A Second-Round battle

Joliet Catholic vs. Wheaton Academy
Joliet Memorial Stadium
7 p.m. Kickoff

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Drake Skleba for Joliet Catholic Academy 

“Takin’ Care of Business”  Randy Bachman- Bachman Turner Overdrive-1973

While the top-ranked, Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers (10-0), were “taking care of business” with a 48-0 IHSA Class 4A First Round victory over Marengo, the Warriors of Wheaton Academy (8-2) were also following the words of songwriter and singer, Randy Bachman, at home in West Chicago.  

The Warriors came away with a 36-3 IHSA Class 4A First-Round victory, over the visiting Coal City Coalers (6-4) last Friday night. 

On Friday night at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, the Hilltoppers will host the Warriors in a IHSA Class 4A Second-Round game at 7 p.m. 

Wheaton Academy is actually located in West Chicago.

Wheaton Academy is a Christian school named after the founders of Wheaton, Illinois, Jesse and Warren Wheaton and was established in 1853. The school is the private Academy for Wheaton College (1860).

The Warriors (8-2, 4-1) are members of the Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division. The Warriors finished in second place, to MSC-Blue champion, Immaculate Conception (9-1, 5-0). The Warriors average 39.1 points-per-game and have allowed 9.6 points-per game. 

Wheaton Academy is coached by Head Football coach, J.J Johanik. Johanik is 13-3 overall in his second year at the helm of the Warriors. 

This is the fifth trip to the IHSA playoffs, for the Warriors, with a 2-4 record. 

Johanik uses a rotating, two-quarterback system, with senior Dave Dorn (56-for-82,866 yards, nine TDs, two INTS) and junior Belay Brummel (49-for-81, 726 yards,11 TDS, 0 INT)

Senior Eddie Kasper (32 receptions, 632 yards, seven TDs) and sophomore Liam White (36 receptions, 556 yards, nine TDs) are the leading receivers for the Warriors.

22 Warrior ball carriers have  rushed for 1,443 yards on the season, with 28 rushing touchdowns, led by senior Anastasios Nikolaou with 289 yards and five touchdowns. Dorn has rushed for 231 yards and five touchdowns. 
A. Apostoli chips in with 211 yards and four touchdowns. 

The undefeated Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers are under the tutelage of Head Football Coach Jake Jaworski (JCA ’02) 

Jaworski is in his fifth year at the helm of the Hilltoppers and has a 37-14 record with the 2018 IHSA Class 5A State Championship. In 2019 Jaworski’s Hilltoppers advanced to the Class 5A Quarterfinals and his 2020 squad, this spring, finished as the 12th undefeated team in JCA football history. 

The 2021 Hilltoppers are the 41st Hilltopper squad to make the IHSA playoffs and have an overall playoff record of 115-26.  JCA has won 14 IHSA State Football Championships and have been IHSA State Football Runner-ups on four occasions. 

The 2021 Hilltoppers are undefeated at 10-0 and won the Chicago Catholic League-East Suburban Catholic Conference Orange Division. The Hill averages 44.7 points-per-game and allow 17 points-per-game. 

“The Hogs” 

First and foremost we recognize, in our opinion, the best offensive line in “The Land of Lincoln”

T Josh Jones        6-foot-2, 295 pounds
G Anthony Birsa   6-foot-5  265 pounds
C Niko Paolini      6-foot-3  295 pounds
G Paul Ragusa    6-foot     215 pounds
T Luke Sartori      6-foot-4  335 pounds.

The multi-threat quarterback Aidan Voss

Hilltopper senior quarterback Aidan Voss has completed 39 of his 73 passes for 860 yards and 11 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. The elusive QB has rushed for 294 yards on just 31 carries with five touchdowns. 

Voss’ favorite target Jake Fieldman 

Hilltopper senior wide receiver, Jake Fieldman has hauled in 22 of Voss’ tosses for 568 yards and eight touchdowns. Fieldman has a 65-yard punt return for six, versus Benet Academy, to add to his splendid resume’.

“The Deadly Duo” Vinny Iannantone and Jordan Anderson

Iannantone, the Gillespie CCL-ESCC Orange Division, Most Valuable Player, has rushed for 1,437 yards and 16 touchdowns. Anderson, has rumbled for 827 yards on just 84 carries with 18 touchdowns. Anderson has hauled in six passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. 

“Mr. Automatic” place-kicker Pat Durkin
The sophomore Durkin has converted 52 of his 58 points-after-touchdowns, with three field goals. All season, the sophomore has had numerous, non-returnable kickoffs to the opposition, by kicking-off the ball into and out of the end zone. 

The Hilltopper “D” 

The Hilltopper defense has been led by junior defensive end Jeremy Johnson and All-State linebacker Mike “King Michael” Rouse. Johnson leads The Hill with 8.5 quarterback sacks while Rouse leads the Hilltoppers with 73 tackles. 

Having a tremendous sophomore season, Hilltopper linebacker Dillan Johnson has 6.5 quarterback sacks and has two fumble recoveries.

All CCL-ESCC Orange defensive back, Tahjuan McClellan, leads the Hilltopper secondary with three interceptions. 

If JCA advance to the IHSA Class 4A Quarterfinals next weekend. 

The Hill would play the winner of Wheaton St. Francis (8-2) at Genoa-Kingston (9-1), being played on Saturday at 3 p.m., in Genoa.

If Genoa-Kingston wins, JCA would host the Cogs at Memorial Stadium next weekend.

If Wheaton St. Francis wins, JCA would travel to West Chicago to face the Spartans next weekend. 

Friday Night Perfect Playoff Football Weather for Joliet/Wheaton 

Kickoff 7 p.m. 

Temp 45 degrees 
SW winds 6-8 miles-per-hour 

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