Preps Talk

Forreston defeats Decatur St. Teresa for Class 1A title

Forreston defeats Decatur St. Teresa for Class 1A title

CHAMPAIGN, ILL.  -- A.J. Christensen rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown and added a 93-yard kickoff return for a score to lead Forreston past Decatur St. Teresa 35-7 in the IHSA Class 1A state football finals at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Friday.

Christenson's kickoff return happened just after St. Teresa tied the game at 7 with less than six minutes left in the first half.

"The kickoff was big for sure, but bigger, I think, was holding them out of the end zone twice in the first half," Christensen said. "Those stands made the difference. It took the momentum completely away from them and kept us going."

The goal-line stands came in the second quarter with the score tied or the Forreston Cardinals (14-0) ahead by a touchdown.

"We had success with the package that we had in there all year," St. Teresa coach Mark Ramsey said. "I was happy with the guys we had in. We just didn't get it done."

The Cardinals, running a triple option offense, fooled the Bulldogs (12-2) time and again in the game. The first touchdown of the game came when Forreston quarterback Hunter Daws made two play action fakes and then threw the ball over the top to Sam Barkalow for a 54-yard score.

"I thought we did some good things and some that weren't so good." Forreston coach Denny Diduch said. "Offensively, we really ran the ball well and when we shored some things up defensively, we played much better."

St. Teresa standout sophomore Jacardia Wright, an all-state selection this year, was held to just 46 yards on 16 carries. Senior quarterback Ryan Fyke threw for 209 yards for the Bulldogs.

Forreston, which won the Class 1A title in 2014, rushed for 368 yards as a team.

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Leyden

Sept. 1 @ Stagg

Sept 7 vs Hillcrest

Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower

Sept. 21 @ Richards

Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 5 vs Reavis

Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park

Oct. 19 @ Argo

Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.  

EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

Head coach: Bob Padjen

Assistant coaches: Trent Jensen, Jesse Kikkert, Jonathan Hill, Doug Smith, Mike Tisza, Rob Shell and Tim Russell

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Blue Conference), T.F. South made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Rebels lost to Danville in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Thornwood

Sept. 1 vs Julian

Sept. 7 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 14 @ TF North

Sept. 21 vs Bremen

Sept. 28 @ Reavis

Oct. 5 vs Hillcrest

Oct. 12 @ Lemont

Oct. 19 @ Tinley Park

[MORE: 86 Days to Kickoff - Reavis]

Biggest storyline: T.F. South has advanced to the playoffs 20 times in the past 24 seasons. Can the Rebels get back to the IHSA state playoff field and make more noise this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Kamron Clayton LB Michael Smith

Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to replace seven starters on each side of the football this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen was able to keep the Rebels on a winning path in his first season as Rebels head coach after several years serving in an assistant role. South always has talent. If the underclassmen can step up this summer, look for the Rebels to challenge for the top half of the South Suburban Blue conference race.