If Caleb Reams can play tight end next year for whoever his new coach will be at the University of Illinois the way he played the position on Friday night, he’s going to see a lot of playing time at the next level.
The 6-3 senior played his best statistical game of the season, catching two touchdown passes from quarterback Jay Nickell and hauling in four passes for 88 total yards in the first half of Warren’s easy 44-0 non-conference victory over host Grant in Fox Lake.
With its fifth win and possessing plenty of tiebreaker playoff points, Warren (5-2) will reach the postseason for the third year in a row and the 14th time in 16 years.
Friday’s loss eliminates Grant (2-5) from the playoff hunt for the second year in a row. The last time the Bulldogs missed the playoffs in back-to-back years was 2003 and 2004.
Reams’ TD receptions were for 31 and 14 yards. Add in two 37-yard runs by Darrius Crump, and two more by VaShaun Wright (18 and 1 yards), and it was 44-0 at halftime. Warren’s starters did not play after intermission. Nickell was 6-of-10 passing for 127 yards. Crump carried seven times for 146 yards and Wright gained 41 yards on five carries.
The second half was noteworthy for one reason: Warren took the second-half kickoff, and drove the length of the field before Grant’s defense got a fourth-down stop inside the 10. That drive started with the Grant’s third-quarter kickoff and ended with Grant getting a stop on the first play of the FOURTH quarter. Then, Grant drove the length of the field, and the game ended before Warren got to run another play. Twenty-four minutes of running clock, and two total possessions.
For the game, Warren had 246 rushing yards on 28 attempts and 140 passing. Grant had 31 rushing yards on 35 attempts and eight passing yards.
“We took care of business tonight,” said Reams. “The offense and defense both played well. It was a good team win. Now we go back home to play Lake Zurich and have to do it all again.
“We should be healthy again next week,” he added, “which should be a blessing.”
Warren has played without some O-line regulars due to injury.
Warren came out and threw the ball on seven straight plays spanning two series before calling a running play.
“We figured they’d be expecting us to run,” said Nickell. “We have a pair of really good backs in Darrius and VaShaun. We wanted to establish the passing game and get a couple of quick scores.
“Once you establish the passing game,” he added, “it makes the running game that much more effective.”
Nickell also is aware the next Friday’ game against powerful Lake Zurich will be a challenge.
“They always have one of the best defenses in the state,” Nickell said. “We have to be prepared to go out and execute. I have faith in our oddfense and defense to get it done.
“We want to get the win next week and the following week,” he added, “and go into the playoffs with some momentum.”