Resurgent Nazareth shuts out Morgan Park, advances to Class 5A semifinals

Nazareth lost four of its first six games. All of the losses were to ranked teams, but it is uncommon to see a team recover from a 2-4 start and make the state semifinals.

SHARE Resurgent Nazareth shuts out Morgan Park, advances to Class 5A semifinals
Nazareth’s Alexander Angulo (24) celebrates with teammates after his touchdown against Morgan Park.

Nazareth’s Alexander Angulo (24) celebrates with teammates after his touchdown against Morgan Park.

Quinn Harris/For the Sun-Times

The first sack in Nazareth’s 29-0 shutout Saturday of Morgan Park was by freshman Lesroy Tittle.

Later in the first quarter, sophomore Gabe Kaminski got in on the action by sacking Mustangs quarterback Marcus Thaxton.

It was that kind of afternoon for Morgan Park, which was overwhelmed by the young Roadrunners in a Class 5A quarterfinal game in La Grange Park.

‘‘Our coaching staff is the best in the state, so we were prepared,’’ Kaminski said. ‘‘[Morgan Park] played exactly how we thought they would.’’

Offensively, Nazareth relied on its rushing game. Sophomore Alexander Angulo had 21 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Justin Taylor contributed 53 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

‘‘There has been so much growth from Week 1 until now,’’ Roadrunners sophomore quarterback Logan Malachuk said. ‘‘We have come together now and are looking pretty good.’’

Malachuk, who took over as the starter late last season, was 7-for-11 for 55 yards with one interception.

Nazareth (8-4) lost four of its first six games. All of the losses were to ranked teams, but it is uncommon to see a team recover from a 2-4 start and make the state semifinals.

‘‘It’s been incredibly rewarding for me,’’ Roadrunners coach Tim Racki said. ‘‘I’ve never had this many young kids. I didn’t yell at them early. I kept picking them up, and they responded to that.

‘‘About Week 7, we really saw the maturing. They knew they belonged up here. The seniors were always patient with them. It was like raising a kid. You see them grow into men, and now I took the training wheels off and I’m a proud dad.’’

Nazareth will visit undefeated Sycamore in the semifinals.

Morgan Park (10-2) played most of the game without star junior Tysean Griffin, who had seven carries for 23 yards.

‘‘We knew he was only 50% or 60% healthy, but he’s our guy and we wanted to give him a chance,’’ Mustangs coach Chris James said. ‘‘But he wasn’t even close to being who he needed to be.’’

Thaxton, a sophomore, was 9-for-21 passing for 99 yards with one interception. Junior receiver Chris Durr had six catches for 76 yards.

‘‘They had the most speed we’ve seen since Kankakee,’’ Racki said. ‘‘But the boys responded to our game plan. It was an incredible defensive performance. I did not think we would shut them out.’’

Morgan Park battled with bad field position throughout the first half and was unable to connect on a big offensive play.

‘‘We’re a young team,’’ James said. ‘‘I don’t want to downplay the contribution the seniors made, but we have a heck of a group coming back, just losing four starters. So we will get back to work and keep building.’’

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