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Joliet Central falls to Stagg in season finale

PALOS HILLS – Joliet Central’s sixth straight winless season ended with a 49-12 SouthWest Suburban Blue loss to Stagg on Friday night.

The Steelmen’s touchdowns came on a 5-yard pass from Zach Wisneski to Jomarre McNair with 10:08 left in the second quarter and a 12-yard pass from Wisneski to Kamren Smith on the final play of the third quarter.

Smith finished the night with 40 receiving yards, and Malek Harden rushed for 77 yards for Central (0-9, 0-7). Herbert Hughes rushed for 210 yards on only 10 carries for Stagg (2-7, 1-6).

Smith has been playing hurt much of the year.

“He took extra time in the training room and tonight we wanted to get him that touchdown for all his hard work,” Steelmen coach Brett Boyter said.

After Wisneski’s touchdown pass to McNair brought the Steelmen within 14-6, Stagg scored the next 35 points to invoke the running clock.

“All week in practice, we reminded the team of who their good runner was,” Boyter said of Hughes. “We knew to win we would have to stop him. We did not do a very good job of that, but give credit to his offensive line tonight, also.”

On the positive side for Central, the Steelmen did not turn the ball over and forced three fumbles.

“We [coaches] told them to go to the ball and that’s what they did,” Boyter said.

Despite the continuation of the long losing streak, Boyter said, “It was an honor to coach these guys. They gutted it out in practice and gutted it out on the game field. Coaching kids who love the game and give it their all has been very good.”

He told the team afterward: “Adversity won’t stop you from success in life, you overcome it. Bigger and better things are there for you.”

Looking ahead to next season, when the Steelmen will be in the Southwest Prairie Conference, Boyter said, “The new conference is a good thing. We play nine weeks, but it is the nine months in the weight room that will make a difference next year.”

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