O’Brien: Vernon Hills loses 5A title, but lights up record book

SHARE O’Brien: Vernon Hills loses 5A title, but lights up record book

Vernon Hills quarterback Kyle Hull (10) slips out of the back field against Peoria Central in the Class 5A state title game. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

CHAMPAIGN — Peoria Central’s high-scoring offense was one of the must-see features in this weekend’s slate of title games. The Lions put on a show on Saturday, beating Vernon Hills 62-48 in the Class 5A championship game at Memorial Stadium.

Peoria Central scored 805 points this season, the first team in state history to score more than 800.

“Their offense is so high-powered,” Vernon Hills linebacker Andrew Smith said. “It’s like nothing we have ever seen before. We play in a good conference but this is one step above.”

The Cougars tore up the state record book, setting four Class 5A title game passing records.

“We were trying to match their offense,” Vernon Hills wide receiver Drew Winegardner said. “It’s the most fun I’ve eve had playing a game. We came up a couple plays short but I’m proud of the guys.”

Winegardner set the new record for receptions with 19 catches for 128 yards and three touchdowns.

Vernon Hills quarterback Kyle Hull set a record for most passes completed, he was 45-for-59 for 426 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Cougars set team records for most passes attempted (63), most passes completed (47) and most passing yardage for a team (475). The teams combined for 690 passing yards, also a record for the Class 5A title game.

“[Peoria Central] has dynamic athletes and they are tough to stop,” Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. “I didn’t expect the size I guess. When you see them up close they are really big.”

The Cougars (10-4) led 28-21 early in the second quarter. Peoria Central’s Miguel Fenderson returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 28.

“We had some momentum going and that returned kick hurt us,” Bellecomo said. “It was back and forth until that point.”

Geno Hess had 30 carries for 215 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions (13-1). Aaron Jowers added six receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our school has never done this before,” Hull said. “To do it for the first time is an honor.”

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