NEW LENOX – Mike Uremovich played high school football at Providence and was the head coach at University of St. Francis for seven years.
He knows a little something about the football played in the Joliet area, and the talent that comes from this area. Now, he is the offensive line coach at North Carolina State, where Lincoln-Way West senior right tackle Justin Witt has committed.
“[Uremovich] actually started recruiting me at the end of my freshman year,” Witt said. “I love the guy.”
Uremovich is likely to return the love when he sees how Witt and his cohorts in the West offensive line – left tackle Nate Henry, left guard Brett Bergman, center Jason Lucinski and right guard Bryan Brokop (who will play at Nebraska) – took care of business in Friday night’s 28-0 SouthWest Suburban Red victory over Lincoln-Way Central.
The primary beneficiary of the escort service was senior running back Gabe Montalvo, who rushed for 233 yards in 19 carries. He scored on runs of 1, 4 and 49 yards and also ripped off gallops of 60, 40, 16, 13, 11 and 10 yards.
“We were very good tonight,” Witt said of the offensive line. “I don’t think they [Knights] had any idea what they were messing with.”
“Our line was really blocking well,” Montalvo said. “Passing, running, we could have done anything.”
Montalvo’s four-yard TD run in the third quarter gave West (3-0, 1-0) a 21-0 lead. His 49-yarder late in the third quarter for the final points came on a third-and-29 draw play. When he got into the secondary, he juked the final Central defender and turned on the jets.
“I guess I learned [the juke move] from my brother [Javier, who also was a standout running back for the Warriors],” Montalvo said.
Warriors quarterback Connor Lowman and wide receiver Dylan McHale hooked up on a 43-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to conclude a two-play scoring drive after Montalvo had run 16 yards on the first play. Lowman finished 6 of 13 for 88 yards and was intercepted once, by Eric Ramos. McHale grabbed three passes for 79 yards.
“We gave up some big plays,” Central coach Jeremy Cordell said. “And the thing is, we had guys in the right places. We made solid calls. One thing is, we gave up too many yards after contact.”
Montalvo has that effect on a defense.
Still, it was far from a perfect offensive game for West, which failed to score after Montalvo’s 60-yard run set up a first-and-goal at the Central 7 late in the first quarter.
“I was pleased with our effort,” Warriors coach Dave Ernst said. “We fought and played hard. But we made a lot of mistakes on offense.
“Of course, some of that was their defense. Their inside linebacker, No. 50, [Jake] Dudeck, is one of the best linebackers we will see all year. He does some great things.”
Dudeck led the Knights with five tackles and two assists and linebacker Blake Evans had five stops, one for loss.
Central (1-2, 0-1) moved the ball at times, with quarterback Austin Strilko completing 16 of 30 passes for 112 yards and Nolan Hayes catching seven for 46 yards. However, the Knights had the long field most of the night and were unable to sustain their drives against a West defense orchestrated by coordinator Luke Lokanc and led by Trey Telez.
“One thing that hurt them was being without No. 5 [running back Dan Eber],” Ernst said. “He is a playmaker on bubble screens and that sort of thing, and I understand he got hurt in practice late in the week.”
Telez, a linebacker by trade, spent most of the night with his hand on the ground at defensive end and finished with eight tackles, three assists, a sack and 2½ tackles for loss.
“I was so excited for this game,” Telez said. “We came out and smacked them. I felt good playing at defensive end. Sometimes it’s a little better for me coming off the edge.”
West linebacker Jake Price contributed seven tackles plus an assist, safety Josh Bohne six tackles and two assists and defensive lineman Dan Wainwright 1½ sacks.
Other key contributors to the shutout included linemen Cortez Michalski and Keaton McCahill, linebackers Devin Reed and Danny Allen and defensive backs Cody Conry, Matt Murphy and Cameron Gavin.
“We definitely did not sustain drives against their defense,” Cordell said. “We had opportunities,and we didn’t execute.”
West won the sophomore game, 23-20.