WILMINGTON – There are many adjectives to describe Wilmington’s offense Friday in the Wildcats’ 55-13 win over Peoria Heights in the first round of the Class 3A football playoffs.
Dominant, efficient and explosive came to mind as the Wildcats raced to a 35-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and went on a a 55-7 halftime advantage. But, perhaps the most fitting on the night before Halloween, scary.
As in scary good.
Wilmington (10-0), the defending 3A state champion and owner of a 24-game winning streak, scored on all eight of its first-half possessions, rushing for 379 yards before intermission. Owen Weaver and Nick Hawkins each scored three TDs for the Wildcats, who will host Byron – a 42-7 winner over Lisle on Friday – in the second round, while Dustin Kelly also had a TD on the ground. On Wilmington’s one and only pass play, quarterback Jeff Treadman hit Steve Smock with a 59-yard score.
Wilmington’s John Cox recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and Hawkins (seven carries, 146 yards) went 31 yards on the first play for a touchdown. Peoria Heights (5-5) answered with a 43-yard TD pass from Blake Begner to Geno Hess to tie the game. Wilmington started the next possession on its own 41, and Weaver (five carries, 193 yards) went 59 yards for a touchdown. Wilmington got the ball back on downs and drove 57 yards on five plays, with Hawkins scoring from 14 yards out.
“The linemen did a great job,” Weaver said of the purple wall of center Cox, guards Robert Van Duyne and Caleb Gougis, tackles Bailey Boswell and Blake Geiss and tight ends Smock and Sam Jones. “As soon as we hit the hole, we would see what else opened up and take it there.
“It’s a great feeling to get that first playoff game out of the way. It’s a great atmosphere here, and we did what we were supposed to do tonight.”
After a Peoria Heights punt, Weaver took a first-down handoff and went 67 yards for a touchdown. Another punt followed, and it was Hawkins’ turn again, this time from 60 yards out and the fourth one-play drive from the Wildcats. After another Patriots’ punt, Weaver went 57 yards on the third play for his third TD. Hawkins then intercepted a pass at the one-yard line, and Wilmington went 99 yards in six plays, the last a 59-yard pass play from Treadman to Smock. Kelly capped the Wildcats scoring with a six-yard run with 1:04 to go until halftime.
Peoria Heights scored the lone TD of the second half on a 65-yard fumble return by Jarin Wallace.
“You don’t run the ball like we did without the O-line doing its job,” Wilmington coach Jeff Reents said. “Nick and Owen are special backs, but when they aren’t getting hit until 10 yards down the field, they can really do some damage and that’s all the offensive line. And, they do a great job of blocking for each other. (Assistant) coach (Barry) Southall just has to figure out who has the hot hand, and tonight, both of them did. That’s a nice problem to have.
“Our defense had a breakdown on the first series, but really buckled down after that and gave the offense the ball in good field position. We know that Byron is a good team and it should be a brawl next week. We’re looking forward to it.”