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Mike Kurtz carries Yorkville to first playoff win since 1999

Catch him if you can.

Riding the shoulders of Mike Kurtz, Yorkville pounded out a 21-19 decision Saturday over Crete-Monee for the Foxes’ first playoff win since 1999.

“How many carries did he have?” Karl Hoinkes asked.

Told the senior tailback handled the ball 51 times for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the veteran coach’s jaw dropped.

“Are you kidding me?” he said. “I knew it was a lot but I didn’t know it was that many. His mother is gonna have me arrested for child abuse.”

The Foxes ended up needing every one of them since a pair of first-half drives into the Warriors’ red zone netted no points and kept things uncomfortably close.

“We knew he was a great running back,” Crete-Monee coach Jon Koneckisaid. “Their coach has done a great job. We knew he was gonna be a load. Mistakes hurt us in all three phases of the game, though.”

The Warriors (6-4) took leads of 6-0 and 12-7 on touchdown runs of 12 and 56 yards from quarterback Clint Ratkovich (12 carries, 65 yards).

Yorkville (8-2) was quick to answer with an 84-yard scoring drive capped by an 8-yard TD pass from quarterback Nathan Scott to Austin Avery.

Then, linebacker Michael Pansera blocked a Crete-Monee punt in the final 30 seconds of the first half that was recovered by Jacob Brazzil at the Warrior 12.

Three plays later, Kurtz bulled in from 6 yards out fora 14-12 halftime lead, courtesy of a Crete-Monee PAT kick off an upright and a run that failed.

Hoinkes’ team kept getting good field position and smartly marched 48 yards on six plays, capped by a 5-yard TD run from Kurtz that proved to be the game-winner midway through the third quarter.

It wasn’t without some anxious moments, though.

The Warriors answered with Ratkovich’s third score on a 6-yard run to cap a 70-yard drive. Carlos Soto made the PAT kick and the lead was down to two points with 10:50 left in the game.

What happened next was simply remarkable.

Yorkville marched from its 28 to the Warrior 1-yard line in 18 plays, with Kurtz carrying on 15 of them. Twice the Foxes converted on fourth downs.

With Crete-Monee out of timeouts, Scott then took a knee for two plays to run out the clock.

“An 18-play drive is like unbelievable in high school,” Hoinkes said. “That is ungodly, but the kid (Kurtz) was determined.”

Kurtz, admitting he was tired, said he was headed home to take an ice bath.

“I didn’t realize it was that many carries, I was thinking about 35-ish,” he said. “We had to run the clock out.”

Ratkovich finished with 127 yards passing and Crete-Monee claimed a 308-303 edge in total yards.

“Yorkville is a very good team,” Konecki said. “It didn’t come down to the last drive. We had other chances.

“Honestly, that’s a very good team and we came up short. It’s gonna hurt but we’ll dust ourselves off. These kids started the season 1-2 and they battled back.”

Hoinkes said the run game had to make do because Crete-Monee’s secondary did such a great job of clamping down on his receivers and taking the passing option out of play.