WOODSTOCK – All the time spent working together after summer practices and building chemistry during camps is already paying big dividends for Marian Central’s first-year starting quarterback Billy Bahl and the Hurricanes’ wide receivers.
While senior running back Ephraim Lee is always a threat to rip off a big run, it was Marian’s passing attack on the arm of Bahl that repeatedly picked apart the McHenry’s defense in the Hurricanes’ 40-14 win Friday. In the first half alone, Bahl completed 14 of 17 passes, including six straight to open the game, for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Bahl finished with 355 passing yards and four touchdowns and an interception. The chemistry he has already built with senior wide receiver Brett Olson gives the junior an important go-to receiver. But perhaps the scariest thing for the Hurricanes’ future opponents is that the offense still has room to grow and improve this coming after they scored 68 total points through two games. Marian did not attempt a punt in its win against the Warriors.
Despite putting up big numbers, Marian coach Ed Brucker wants to correct some of Bahl’s mistakes that led to some bad throws and an interception in the end zone. Still, Brucker gave some high praise to his passing attack.
“I thought Brett did a nice job going up and getting some jump balls,” Brucker said. “If guys want to concentrate on Brett, we have other receivers that go catch the ball. Probably the best set of receivers I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
South’s unlikely hero: As Crystal Lake South’s players knelt for their postgame talk on the field following their 14-7 victory at Crystal Lake Central Friday, one player was asked to stand.
Junior receiver Tyler Baker stood up and the rest of the Gators gave him rousing applause. The 5-foot-10, 140-pounder earned it by catching two balls, neither of which was intended for him, in the fourth quarter. He also completed his first varsity throw in the first half on a fake punt, hitting Reese Tannhauser for a 36-yard gain.
Baker caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Austin Rogers that actually was headed for receiver Brandon LaPak. Baker scored with 7:05 remaining for the game-deciding points. He later helped seal the deal with an interception of Central quarterback Kyle Lavand. Baker had not played a lot of defense, but Gators coach Chuck Ahsmann used him at cornerback and it paid off.
Throwing them a wrinkle: Harvard fans may have been a little surprised at the start of Friday's game against Oregon.
The Hornets opened the game with two straight passes, and looked to throw the ball seven of out their first 10 plays.
The Hornets got their runs in, of course, finishing with 56 carries for the game, but the Hornets looked to pass early to spread out Oregon's 5-2 defense from loading the box.
Backs Christian Kramer and Jose Mejia will be the workhorses for Harvard's offense, but junior quarterback Peyton Schneider has a year of varsity experience, allowing Hornets coach Tim Haak to open up his playbook.
Harvard returns leading reciever Justin Nolen, who had five receptions in Friday's 20-14 win, with Michael MacKenzie and Coty Reilly each adding one catch. Harvard ran two screen passes to Nolen, and will look to get him in space to make plays.
With Kramer and Mejia running hard, the Hornets' playaction may be a big success for Harvard's offense.
Secret Weapon: Dundee-Crown running back T.J. Moss hurt Streamwood with his running, but also with his foot.
When the Chargers scored, which was often in their 59-14 victory, Moss usually took any potential kickoff return out of the equation with deep kicks into the end zone.
Moss also was 5 for 5 on extra points.
* Joe Stevenson, Andrew Hansen and Bill Pemstein contributed to this report.