No. 1 Hilltoppers defeat Marengo 48-0

Drake Skleba for Joliet Catholic Academy 

IHSA Illinois High School Football Championships

Joliet Catholic Academy 14

Chicago Mt. Carmel       13

New Lenox Providence  10

East St. Louis                   9

Rochester                         8

On a wet, windy and cold Friday night, at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, the Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic Academy  began their quest for the school’s 15th Illinois High School Athletic Association State Football Championship. During the pregame coin toss, members of the 1981, 1990, 2000, and 2001 Hilltopper State Championship teams were honored on the field. 

“The Drive for 15” began with the No.1-seeded Hilltoppers’ defeat of their guests, the No.32-seeded Indians of Marengo High School, 48-0.

This one was over very quickly!

A four-play 31-yard JCA (10-0) drive, was capped off by the Gillespie Chicago Catholic League East Suburban Catholic Orange Division MVP, Hillltopper senior Vinny Iannantone’s (six carries, 53 yards, two TDs), one-yard run. After the first of his seven points-after touchdowns, sophomore place-kicker Pat Durkin, gave the Hilltoppers a 7-0 lead with 7:54 remaining in the first quarter. 

Two minutes and 38 seconds later, Hilltopper senior quarterback Aidan Voss (2-for-3, 70 yards, TD; one carry, four yards, TD) connectetd with senior wingback Jordan Anderson (three carries, 39 yards, TD; one reception, 34 yards, TD), for a 34-yard scoring strike and a 14-0 Hill lead, with 5:16 in the first quarter.

With 1:49 remaining in the opening quarter, Anderson waltzed into the end zone for his 18th rushing touchdown of the season from six yards out  for a 21-0 JCA lead. 

After the Hilltopper “D” forced and recovered a Marengo (5-5) fumble, Voss scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. The elusive QB raced into the end zone from four-yards out for a 28-0 lead after one quarter. 

With 8:27 left in the first half, Iannantone scored his 16tth rushing touchdown of the season from five yards out for a 35-0 JCA lead. 

Junior defensive end Jeremy Johnson electrified the soaked Hilltopper fans with his 72-yard “scoop and score” of another Indians fumble. The 42-0 Hilltopper lead initiated the 40-points running clock with 2:26 remaining in the first half. 

“It was unreal to go 72-yards for the “scoop and score,” Johnson said. “It was my first touchdown since my freshman year. It looks real good to see the 0 under Marengo on the scoreboard.” 

The expected Marengo junior quarterback Josh Holst’s “Air Show” was grounded by the wind and the rain and the Hilltopper “D”. 

Holst was six-for-nine passing for 55 yards. Holst was sacked four times in the game and was held to -22 yards rushing on 12 carries. 

The lone bright spot for the visiting Indians was the game-high 121-yard rushing night, for Marengo’s leading rusher, senior Dylan Stolz. 

The third quarter flew by quickly and was scoreless. 

Behind the “Junior Hogs” the Hilltoppers second-team offense, led by junior quarterback T.J. Schlageter, marched 65 yards for six more points. 

With 7:22 remaining in the game, sophomore Aaron Harvey scored the final touchdown of the game on a two-yard run.  A 30-yard rumble by Hilltopper sophomore Max Hvartin (two carries, 36 yards) and a 22-yard gallop from junior Brett Mouw (five carries, 37 yards), highlighted the Hilltoppers final scoring drive.

“We came out and attacked Marengo just as we would against Brother Rice,” Anderson said. “We never overlook any team on our drive to the state championship. Our outstanding defense gave us a short field and we took advantage of it.” 

“We wanted to start fast tonight and we did,” Voss said. “There are still some areas that we want to improve in. Wheaton Academy-Coal City  are fine programs and we look forward to playing the winner, next week.” 

“We started fast and never let up on Marengo tonight,” Iannantone said. “We just have to keep on doing the things that we have done all season.”

“We had a great week of practice and we continue to take what we learn in practice, onto the field,” “Hogs” center Niko Paolino said. “One down and four to go.” 

JCA will take on Wheaton Academy (8-2) in the second round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Friday, November 5 at 7 p.m.

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