There was no doubt the first third of Minooka’s schedule would be a challenge.
When you open with Morris, Providence and Oswego, victories figure to be sparse.
The Indians did beat Morris before running into a buzz saw the last two weeks. Much like the cold slap in the face in the old Aqua Velva commercials, the time had come when Minooka needed to whip somebody.
It happened Friday night at Plainfield Central.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians exploded for four second-quarter touchdowns to lead 27-0 at halftime en route to a 48-7 Southwest Prairie victory over the Wildcats.
“Yeah, we needed this,” Indians coach Paul Forsythe said. “They’ve been struggling, and we played well.”
“This was a good win,” right guard Paul Stawarz said. “It was a good game for our line. It gets us back on track. It shows what we can do. But we still have to stay focused.”
Minooka (2-2, 1-1) piled up 199 of its 435 yards of offense in the decisive second quarter. Nate Gunn, who finished with 158 yards in 18 carries and scored four touchdowns, had 99 yards in that quarter alone, including TD runs of 13, 25 and 1 yards.
Quarterback Jake Czerniakowski completed his last eight passes to finish 8-of-10 for 134. One of his two touchdown throws was a 26-yarder in the second quarter to Zachry Zamora streaking open over the middle.
“We have to be able to run the ball,” Forsythe said. “If we can run it, that changes things. If we’re one-dimensional, we have to be really good on the outside or we’re in trouble.”
“You can’t shoot yourself in the foot the way we did and win,” Central coach John Jackson said. “We left the ball on the table, shanked a punt, had a pass blocked for an interception and we missed tackles.”
Anthony Phillips, Minooka’s 6-foot-6 senior defensive end, got his hand up and blocked the pass from Matt Gurke that linebacker Jeff Klank intercepted and returned 34 yards to the 2, setting up the third touchdown of the second quarter.
Gurke completed 13-of-25 passes but for just 88 yards and the Wildcats (0-4, 0-2) rushed for 116 as Minooka’s defense, keyed by linebackers Klank, Nathan Reilly and Jesse Troyner, compensated for the absence of its leader, linebacker Mitch Vogrin, who was out with a knee injury suffered last week. An MRI is imminent.
When Gunn finished his night, junior Victor Turpin stepped in. He finished with 116 yards and ended the scoring with a 64-yard TD run.
“Victor has tremendous work ethic,” Forsythe said. “He’s patient, picks his way. I’m excited about him.”
Akwasi Aikins scored on a seven-yard run for Central.
“They played well and we didn’t,” Jackson said. “But considering the score, I was pleased with our effort. We are young and inexperienced.”