HUNTLEY – In the second quarter of Lincoln-Way Central’s Friday night season opener against Huntley, the Knights’ defense kept Huntley within striking distance by forcing turnovers in their own territory on each of the Red Raiders’ final three drives of the half.
Central’s offense, however, was not as opportunistic as its counterpart, and as a result, the Knights couldn’t keep pace in a 28-12 road defeat.
“We have to learn how to capitalize on opportunities, and I’m confident that will come,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Jeremy Cordell said. “We have a young group. We’re only going to get better with experience. I’m not OK with losing, our guys are not OK with losing, but we’ll continue to get better.”
Cordell’s postgame speech centered on those missed opportunities. The Knights forced and recovered a fumble on one drive and picked off Huntley quarterback Anthony Binetti on each of the next two (once on a tipped ball), but their ensuing drives ended in a punt, a fumble and kneeling out the clock at the end of the half.
Although Cordell felt the game was closer than the score indicated, the Knights could not contain the Huntley offense for the whole game.
The Red Raiders tallied 490 yards to Central’s 279, with 319 of Huntley’s yards coming on the ground.
Sophomore Eric Mooney scored three touchdowns and tallied 116 rushing and 31 receiving yards for Huntley.
“That’s a gritty, really well-coached football team, and I knew they would be,” Huntley coach John Hart said of Central. “I thought we had them outmanned. They made some big plays.”
The Knights’ offense, led by quarterback Austin Strilko, meshed at times but was inconsistent. The unit marched down the field on its opening drive but stalled before the end zone and missed a field goal. On the team’s next drive, Strilko scored a 67-yard touchdown on the first play using misdirection.
After the teams traded early touchdowns, Huntley scored three unanswered touchdowns before Ryan Foster capped an effective drive with a 10-yard touchdown catch.
“I know when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Cordell said. “We’re going to be a good football team. It’s just the consistency. You have to be able to put it together on both sides for four quarters.”
Strilko finished 9 of 20 for 123 yards passing and ran six times for 68 yards. Nico Muto had 45 yards on 11 carries, and Daniel Frederick caught five passes for 52 yards.