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Sports

Druse's kicks are true in Plano

PLANO — Lenny Onsen is the area's senior football coach, now in his 11th season in charge of the Coal City Coalers and with further experience as an assistant.

In all of his years at Coal City as a player and coach, Onsen could not recall a Coalers kicker making more than two field goals in a game. That changed Friday night, when senior David Druse nailed three field goals at Plano ... by the 7:24 mark of the second quarter.

Druse finished with four field goals for the game, helping power the Coalers to a 19-14 Interstate 8 Conference Large Division varsity football victory in a game where their offense and defense failed to score a point. Indeed, all 19 points came on special teams, with junior Matt Halloran adding a punt return for a score in addition to the 13 points totaled by the right leg of Druse.

"Against Westmont my freshman, sophomore and junior years, we scored seven touchdowns every time, so that was a lot of extra points," Druse said, when asked if Friday was the busiest night in his career as a kicker that started when he was in the fifth grade. "But I've never had anything like this for field goals."

The Coalers began the game with a nine-play drive that went from their own 25 to Plano's 25 before stalling. Druse salvaged three points with a successful 42-yard field goal, his longest of the night. He knocked in a 31-yard try later in the first quarter, and after the Coalers got the ball back on a Ryan Bloom fumble recovery, hit another 31-yarder early in the second quarter.

Another fumble recovery by Michael Czaja on the resultant kickoff set up another Druse try before halftime. That one missed narrowly to the right from 30 yards away. Druse bounced back with a perfect second half, hitting an extra point on the Halloran touchdown early in the third quarter and a 33-yard field-goal try with 4:52 to go in the third quarter.

"Our offense didn't get any points, but they were driving deep and getting great field position and it's my job to come through when that happens," Druse said. "It's awesome. There's no better feeling than winning a game like this."

Druse, Czaja and the rest of the Coal City kickoff unit combined to force the Reapers into an average starting field position of their own 23-yard line on the five kickoffs they did not fumble away. Czaja not only recovered the one fumble in the second quarter, he also appeared to recover another in the third. After talking it over for several seconds, the officials decided that the Plano returner was down prior to fumbling the second time.

"I was sprinting down the field towards the ball carrier and saw the ball pop loose, and I was able to jump on it," Czaja said of the fumble recovery that stood up. "I actually didn't see [if the second was a fumble or not]. Things were moving too fast. Once again I just saw the ball pop out and jumped on it as fast as I could."

Of all of the plays made by the Coalers' special teams Friday night, none was as big as the Halloran punt return. It came after the Coaler defense forced the Reapers to go three-and-out on the opening series of the second half. Halloran then fielded a Ivan Corral punt at the Coal City 44, broke one tackle, got to the left sideline and sprinted upfield and into the end zone.

"Well our blockers did a phenomenal job," Halloran said. "My job was to stay behind our blockers and then see what was there. They created an open lane, and I was able to run through it and then get free."

Czaja, Druse and Halloran helped make it a dominant night for Coal City's special teams by almost any measure.

"They were outstanding. Between the punt return and all of the field goals, it was a real solid performance," Onsen said. "That's why that aspect of the game is so important."

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