JOLIET – In a game Plainfield South had to win to keep its playoff and conference championship hopes alive, the Cougars answered the call Friday night with some quick, impressive work.
South (5-3, 5-1) scored on its first offensive play and scored on three of the first four offensive possessions in jumping to a 28-0 first-quarter lead. The Cougars extended it to 49-0 at half and never looked back en route to a 49-7 victory over Southwest Prairie foe Plainfield Central.
“Our kids don’t overlook Central,” South coach Ken Bublitz said. “We’re the two oldest Plainfield high schools, and we usually have some fierce battles.”
The Cougars (5-3, 5-1) scored in all three phases in the game, while the defense forced two turnovers, collected two sacks and allowed 92 total yards of offense. Fifteen of Central’s 25 running plays were for either zero or negative yards.
“We had the right formula for success tonight,” Bublitz said. “Our defense set the tone early, and we gained momentum as the game went on.”
Offensively, the Cougars were led by Jake Maher (seven rushes, 67 yards), Danny Saracco (three rushes, 39 yards, two touchdowns), quarterback Nicholas Deppe (6 of 8, 120 yards, touchdown) and Christian Carrillo (four receptions, 94 yards, touchdown).
Defensively, junior defensive back Joseph Yanke had a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. On special teams, Mitchell Ganassin returned a punt 50 yards for a score.
Cameron Cercone completed 6 of 21 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown for Central (0-8, 0-6) while Nathaniel Graves had two catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
The Cougars’ defense forced a three-and-out on Central’s opening possession, and it resulted in the offense getting the ball inside the Wildcats’ 20. On the next play, Saracco went in for a 14-yard touchdown.
“[Danny] Saracco does a great job on both sides of the ball,” Bublitz said. “He is relentless and is one of our leaders.”
“We had a great week of practice this past week, and we knew they were down,” Saracco said.
Veshan Ward’s 11-yard touchdown run made it, 14-0, with 7:28 left in the opening quarter. Saracco scored his second touchdown, running for a 25-yard score that gave South the lead at 21-0 with 3:02 left in the quarter.
On Central’s next play, Cercone’s pass deflected off his receiver’s hands and was caught by Yanke, who returned it 40 yards for the touchdown. That effectively broke the game open at 28-0 with 2:41 left in the first quarter.
After yet another three-and-out by Central, Nick Portz scored on a 5-yard touchdown run that for a 35-0 lead with 11:02 left in the half.
Saracco’s sack of Cercone ended another Wildcats series that set the stage for Ganassin’s 50-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 42-0 lead with 8:45 left in the half.
Central had little success on the ground throughout against South’s defensive line. Cercone connected with Graves on a 50-yard touchdown to make it, 49-7, with 3:55 left in the third quarter for the Wildcat highlight.
This week, South travels to Oswego. Plainfield North beat the Panthers Friday, so there’s a three-way tie for first in the SPC.
“I know our kids will be ready,” Bublitz said. “It’s a big challenge, but I know that we will be up for it.”