Kaneland wins round one

When the Farmington Farmers arrived at Kaneland last Saturday night, they must felt right at home seeing the Knights football field surrounded by corn fields. There was even a welcome banner for them that read "Welcome to Kanelan"D". But they were no match for the Mighty Knights as Kaneland plowed over the Farmers 41-13 to advance to the second round of the IHSA Class 3A playoffs.

Kaneland "D" which has not allowed more than three touchdowns in any game all year, held the Farmers to just two. But for the second time in as many weeks, the Kaneland "O", was equally impressive scoring on seven drives, had only one turnover, and outscored the Farmers in every quarter.

It all started when Andy Swanson recovered a Farmer fumble on the opening drive. The Knights then drove 52 yards in seven plays scoring on a 9 yard Ryan West run giving Kaneland a 7-0 lead with only 4 and a half minutes gone from the clock. "Scoring on the first drive really got us going", stated DB Nick Gillis.

Inspired by the early score, the Kaneland "D" took over. Farmington which came into this game with a awesome ground attack, was stopped cold rushing. In the first quarter Farmers ground game looked like this -- 2 yards, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, and 0. "They did manage to slip the backs out for a few passes", stated Coach Joe Thorgesen. But the 3 Farmer passes did little to dent the armor of the Kaneland defense.

Matt Gladd split the uprights for a field goal from 23 yards out, at the 2:49 mark of the first quarter giving Kaneland a 10-0 lead, which they held until early in the second quarter.

That's when the Kaneland "D" took a little siesta, and allowed the Farmers their only sustained drive of the night. All of a sudden the game was close again 10-7. "I wasn't worried", said coach Thorgesen, "but, I was concerned".

However, three plays later, Kyle Schrader got back the seven points with a 75 yard pack-a-lunch rip up the middle. Kaneland 17 - Farmington 7. Matt Gladd added a 36 yard field goal, and Kaneland had a comfortable 20-7 half-time lead.

In the second half, all Kaneland had to do was take care of business. And they did. First drive, three plays, bang 27-7, compliments of Ryan West, who with a burst of speed, went 54 yards without looking back.

But, on Farmington's first play from scrimmage, Justin Dillard, the coach's son, broke lose for a 80 yard junket into the end zone, just to make sure nobody left to go home early.

On the next set of plays Kaneland did a very strange thing -- they punted. A few plays later those pesky Farmers where back at it again, driving down to the Kaneland 12 yard line.

But Kaneland's "D" said "ugha", in the form of a Nick Gillis pass interception at the Kaneland 1 centimeter line. From there Kaneland set a new record for the longest drive in school history traveling 99.99 yards in 13 plays, taking what seemed like two hours and 45 minutes to score the killer TD. Appropriately Ryan West had the honor of carrying the ball past the goal line from 23 yards out.

Next time out, the Gillis and West team strikes again. This time Gillis gets the pick on the Farmer side of the field and returns it back to the 26. Four plays later West takes the pigskin in from 2 yards out wrap up the evening. "Sure" Gladd, 2 for 2 in field goals, and 5 for 5 in extra points capping off Kaneland victory 41-13.

West who finished the night with 153 yards in 14 carries, also caught 3 passes for 17 more, scored 4 touchdowns, had 12 tackles, and was too tired to give any quotes. Ryan Schrader added 99 yards in 11 tries and Aaron Siebens had a solid performance hitting 10 of 17 passes for 179 yards. "Aaron is looking like a seasoned veteran out there. We're very pleased with his play", commented coach Thorgesen.

Kaneland had a whopping 588 yards to the Farmers 296. Kaneland had double the first downs 17 to 8, while each team had the same number of offensive plays.

When Gillis who had 2 and a half interceptions (one the ref blew the call on), was asked what he thought about the victory, he replied, "Really cool".

Kaneland's next stop on the way to the state championship, will be Saturday at 1:00 in Addison, against number one seed, Driscoll High School. Round two! The winner will face the winner of the Coal City, Spring Valley game.

Reprinted with permission of the Elburn Herald

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