Game Preview: Hilltopper Football IHSA State Championship Game Ticket and Parking Information

IHSA 4A STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPTIONSHIP GAME: Joliet Catholic Football vs. Sacred Heart-Griffin
DATE: Friday, November 26, 2021
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Northern Illinois University – Huskie Stadium
TICKETS: Tickets for the State Championship game are $15.00 for everyone (as mandated by the IHSA) and are available at the JCA main office until 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, 11/23/21.
Television: Broadcasted on “The U”. Click Here to see what channel based on your market/provider. 
Radio: WJOL 1340 AM
Tickets will also be available to purchase at Huskie Stadium on gameday. Tickets are also available online at Ticketmaster. Click the link to purchase tickets online.
For more information on attending the State Championship football weekend games, visit Fans who cannot attend, can watch the action on Gray Media’s IHSA TV Network (check your local cable package on the specific channel) or stream it on the NFHS network.

Game Preview:

Hilltoppers “Drive for 15’s” last stop at NIU on Friday night

JCA-SHG for IHSA Class 4A State Championship

Drake Skleba for Joliet Catholic Academy 

Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, will be the last stop on the Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic Academy’s “Drive for 15”.

JCA sits atop the IHSA’s Football State Championship Winners list with 14. The Hilltoppers have brought home four IHSA State Football runner-up trophies back to Larkin Avenue in Joliet. 

The Hilltoppers (13-0) opponent, the Cyclones of Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffins (12-1), have won five IHSA State Football Championships and have brought home five IHSA State Football runner-up trophies back to Washington Street in Springfield. 

The two state powers have met four times in the IHSA state playoffs.

The Hilltoppers defeated Springfield Griffin for their first IHSA State Football Championship in Class 4A, 34-14, in 1975. 

The Hilltoppers and Cyclones met in the Class 5A Quarterfinals in 2000, with JCA prevailing 52-35 on the Hilltoppers’ “Road to State Championship No.8” over Metamora. 27-14. 

IHSA State Football Championship No.10 was achieved for JCA with a 24-21 victory over SHG in the 2003 IHSA Class 5A State Championship Game.

In 2011, in the Class 5A Semifinals, the Hilltoppers took the wind out of the Cyclones, 49-7, before falling to the Broncos of Montini 70-45 in the Class 5A State Championship Game. 

Springfield Sacred Heart- Griffin Cyclones (12-1, 8-1) 

This is the 40th IHSA State Football Tournament Playoff appearance, the 20th consecutive, for the Cyclones.

The Cyclones have an 85-40 state playoff record. The Cyclones have won five IHSA State Football Championships (2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014) and have five State Runner-Up finishes in 1975, 1982, 1995, 2003 and 2016.

The Cyclones finished in second-place in the Central State 8 Conference. 

SHG has defeated Columbia (49-13), Bethalto (Civic Memorial) (42-7), Breese Central (55-14) and Rochester (49-42) on their “Road to DeKalb.” 

SHG Hall of Fame Head Football Coach Ken Leonard. 

The Cyclones have been under the tutelage of their legendary Hall of Fame head football coach, Ken Leonard, for 38 years. Leonard has compiled a 405-78 record over 42 total years coaching, with the five SHG IHSA State Football Championships and two IHSA State Football Second-Place finishes. 

“The Leonard Bowl”

Last Friday night in Rochester, another edition of the father-son “Leonard Bowl” took place. Avenging a Week 3 Central State 8 Conference 45-41 defeat to son Derek Leonard, Rochester High School Head Football Coach, “Pops” ended the season for “Son”, 49-42 in an IHSA Class 4A State Semifinal. 

Derek Leonard has won seven IHSA State Football State Championships at Rochester. 

The young Cyclones

With 15 of the Cyclones’ 22 starters being juniors (7 offense, 8 defense), Leonard’s Cyclones may have been a year ahead of schedule. 

Led by junior quarterback Ty Lott, the Cyclones have averaged an Illinois’-best 51.3 points-per-game. The Cyclones have allowed 14.7 points-per-game. 

Lott has completed 176 of his 234 passes for 2,902 yards with 28 touchdowns and only one interception.

The Cyclones junior tandem of receivers Jake Hamilton (46 catches, 809 yards, nine TDs), KeShon Singletary (42 catches, 618 yards, 12 TDs) and Madixx Morris (32 catches, 621 yards, 8 TDs) have been Lott’s favorite receivers.

The Cyclone ground game is led by junior Bill Sanders (529 yards, 12 TD) and senior Brett Puckel (525 yards, 10 TDs)

The Cyclones offensive line averages 234 pounds, anchored by 6-2, 285-pound offensive guard Jonah Del Rosario. 

The Cyclones defensive “Front 7” is anchored by 6-foot-2, 220 pound defensive lineman Vance Ludolph and junior linebacker Hudson McCann (6-2, 205). 

Joliet Catholic Academy (13-0, 3-0) 

This is the Hilltoppers 41st playoff appearance with 14 IHSA State Football Championships (1975-1978, 1981, 1987, 1990, 1992, 99-2001, 2003, 2004 and 2018) and four IHSA State Runner-Up finishes (1996,2002,2009,2011). The Hilltoppers have a 118-26 overall playoff record. 

The Hilltoppers are the 2021 Chicago Catholic League-East Suburban Catholic Conference Orange Division Champions. The Hilltoppers have averaged 44 points-per-game. “The Hill” has allowed 16.2 points-per-game

JCA has defeated Marengo (48-0), Wheaton Academy (48-14), Genoa-Kingston (42-7) and defending Class 4A State Champion Richmond-Burton, 35-18, on their “Road to DeKalb” 

Joliet Catholic Head Football Coach Jake Jaworski

In his fifth year at the helm of the Hilltoppers, JCA Head Football Coach Jake Jaworski (JCA ’02) has a 40-14 overall record and captured the 2018 IHSA Class 5A State Football Championship. The 2020 spring Hilltoppers finished 6-0, becoming the 12th Hilltopper squad to finish unbeaten. 

The Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers enter Friday night’s IHSA Class 4A State Football Championship Game with a 19-game winning streak. The Hilltopper captains are Class 4A IHSFCA All-State senior quarterback Aidan Voss and All-State senior linebacker Mike “King Michael” Rouse. 

Voss has completed 47 of his 87 pass attempts for 1,122 yards and 13 touchdowns. Voss has rushed for 586 yards and nine touchdowns. Hauling in 28 of Voss’ passes for 776 yards and 10 touchdowns is the deadly Hilltopper senior wide receiver Jake Fieldman. 

Rouse anchors the JCA defense. Senior linebacker Niko Wilhelm has stepped up and done a good job in trying to replace the Hilltoppers,  inured leading tackler, linebacker, the hard-hitting Robby Purchase III.  

“The Hogs”

OT Josh Jones (6-2, 290), OG Anthony Birsa (6-2, 265), C Niko Paolino (6-2, 295), OG Paul Ragusa (6-1, 210), OT Luke Sartori (6-4, 335) are 1,400 pounds of the JCA offensive line, aka “The Hogs”. 

The Deadly Duo”

IHSFBCA Class 4A State wingback Vinny Iannantone and senior All-American wingback Jordan Anderson have rushed for 2,977 yards with 45 touchdowns. Iannantone has rushed for 1,714 yards with 19 touchdowns behind “The Hogs”.

Anderson has rumbled for 1,263 yards with 26 touchdowns. Anderson has also grabbed a pair of touchdown receptions from Voss. 

“All of our success this season running the football, could not have been accomplished without “Our Hogs”, Iannantone and Anderson echoed.

With his 128 yards against Richmond-Burton, Iannantone has “bragging rights” in the Iannantone household. Vinny has rushed for 1,714 yards on the season with 19 touchdowns and one game remaining. 

After leading the 2018 Hilltoppers to the IHSA Class 5A State Football Championship, legendary fullback, “Big Bro” Nick Iannantone, rushed 40 times for an IHSA Class 5A State Championship Game record, with 318 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Hilltoppers 35-27 victory over Montini. 

Nick Iannantone (JCA ’19) finished with 1,605 yards and 17 touchdowns for the 2018 IHSA Class 5A State Champion Hilltoppers. 

Saturday’s hero, senior fullback Ryan Louthan, has rushed for 398 yards with a touchdown. Louthan has also hauled in six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. 

The Hilltopper “D” 

The youthful Hilltopper defensive line, junior defensive ends, Jeremy Johnson and Billy Burke, along with defensive tackles, sophomore Dillan Johnson and junior Hunter Powell, have to put pressure on Cyclone quarterback Ty Lott. 

Rouse, Wilhelm and junior linebacker Bryant Weston, must punish any Cyclone pass receivers or running backs who come into their space on the field.

The Hilltopper Secondary

All CCL-ESCC Orange cornerback Tajhaun McClellan and cornerback Ian Williams, along with free safety Charlie O’Neill and strong safety Malachi Hood, will be the last line of defense from the expected Ty Lott “aerial bombardment” on Friday night. 

“Mr. Automatic”, Hilltopper sophomore place-kicker Pat Durkin handles the Hilltoppers kicking duties. Louthan handles the punting duties for JCA.

“The Drive for 15” 

Back in March, this reporter writing the 2020 Hilltoppers Season Preview, spoke with Voss, Rouse, Purchase III, Iannantone, Anderson and Jones. 


The 2020 Hilltoppers (6-0), led by the above, finished the season as the 12th undefeated team in JCA Football History. 

“As a junior, I want to finish the 2020 season, undefeated at 6-0,” said then-junior “Hog”, offensive tackle Josh Jones. “As a senior, I want to come back in 2021 and win the 15th IHSA State Football Championship for Joliet Catholic Academy.” 

“Do what we do”


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