Brooks storms back in second half to beat Mather, keep state playoff hopes alive

Quincy James ran for a season-high 132 yards and one touchdown in the Eagles’ 33-14 comeback win against Mather.

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Brooks senior Quincy James (25) runs the ball against Mather.

Brooks senior Quincy James (25) runs the ball against Mather.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Brooks running back Quincy James wasn’t even a little bit worried about having only three days between his Week 7 and Week 8 games.

“I was happy when they moved the game up,” James said. “I hate playing a game, then waiting a whole week to play again. I was ready; our bodies are prepared.”

Chicago Public Schools moved up Week 8 football games several days to get them played before a possible teachers union strike Thursday. Teams need to play at least eight games to qualify for the playoffs. The games started on Tuesday and will continue Wednesday and Thursday.

If the strike happens and ends before the playoff pairings are released Oct. 26, qualified Public League teams will be playoff-eligible.

James ran for a season-high 132 yards and one touchdown in the Eagles’ 33-14 comeback victory against Mather on Tuesday at Winnemac Stadium.

“I had a long conversation with the offensive line Monday,” James said. “It was kind of a trust circle. It’s something cheerleaders do. I know it sounds strange. We talked about what I need to do better as a running back and what they need to do better as linemen.”

The trust circle appeared to work immediately. Brooks went 80 yards in nine minutes on the first drive of the game, and quarterback Steve Sweeten capped it with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead.

But Mather led 14-6 at the half. Running back Westyn Simmons, who had 20 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown, was held to 34 yards in the second half.

“We decided that run had to stop,” Brooks lineman Omar Adams said. “So we plugged the holes, and they had nowhere to run. When we stopped that, they had nothing else.”

The Eagles (3-5, 3-1 Illini Heartland) dominated the second half. James and Jamareon Cunningham each had rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, and Sweeten and Cunningham added short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

“We have faced a lot of good teams — Hubbard, Taft, Payton,” Brooks coach JD Daniel said. “That prepared us, and we responded with our backs against the wall. We just really needed to establish the run game; we hadn’t done that all season. So it was tremendous to see it today.’’

The win keeps playoff hopes alive for Brooks, but it will need to play a Week 9 game and earn a fourth win. That might not happen if there’s a strike.

“It was intensity,” Daniel said. “We are always talking about having relentless effort. We faced a lot of adversity this week, dealing with all the rumors about the strike. Our guys just came out and played, knowing this might be their last game.”

Mather (5-2, 2-2) already has qualified for the state playoffs, and getting this Week 8 game in before the strike means it will be in the playoff field if things are settled before Oct. 26.

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