COAL CITY — Blazing a trail to four touchdowns, while blanking Coal City in the second half, Alleman Catholic's football team came up with a 28-13 Class 4A playoff victory over the Coalers on Saturday afternoon.
Alleman got a touchdown from Sean Wetherell in the first quarter and one by Adam Hoogerwerf in the second to take a 14-13 lead into the locker room. Coal City's scores came on a 14-yard TD pass from Brennan Shetina to Lane Cowherd in the first and a 4-yard TD pass from Shetina to Nick Peters in the second quarter. However, one of the PAT kicks blew wide for the locals.
In the second half, Alleman put the game away on 6-yard and an 18-yard TD run by John Tracey to account for the final.
"That was a hard-hitting football game. My hat is off to Coal City, they really came at us," Alleman coach Dave DeJaegher said. "It was a great atmosphere today. There was a lot of energy and Coal City has a very good football team. I'm proud of my team, especially in the second half. They forced us to tweak a few things at half."
One of the adjustments was Tracey completing his only pass of the day in the first drive out of the locker room. It was on third and 6 on the Coal City 36 and it was complete to Connor Wahn for 53 yards.
"That catch he made was huge on his part," Tracey said.
Two plays later, Tracey scored on the 6-yard run.
Onsen said that the pass play and a negative 10-yard punt into the wind in the first possession by the Coalers were the difference in the game.
"That was a big play. There were two big plays in this game," he said. "The other was the punter clipping one off his ankle. The first one put us in a hole."
Coal City had been moving the ball fairly efficiently in the first half. In fact, the Coalers scored on a 10-play, 65-yard drive in their second possession and a 13-play, 66-yard drive in the second quarter. And while the locals moved the ball in the third and fourth quarters, they failed to hit paydirt.
"The kids played extremely well, it was just not our day today," Coal City coach Lenny Onsen said. "I really thought thew kids were ready for the second half. We felt positive, things just didn't go our way. They (the Pioneers) were just better than us today."
"They really had the momentum at the end of the game," Coal City senior Nate Natyshok said. "They came out in the second half and were doing more option stuff. They started bouncing it out. The quarterback in the second half was pulling it out."
Tracey ran for 60 yards in the second half.
On the other side of the ball, Shetina said that the Coalers just didn't get the ball into the end zone in the second half.
"We moved the ball well in the first half. In the second half, we didn't finish," he said. "In the second half they dropped more guys into coverage and their pass rush got better as the game went on."
Shetina finished the day 12-of-24 for 121 yards and he was intercepted twice.
"We played solid for two quarters, but in football it's all about playing a solid four quarters," Shetina said.
Despite the loss, Coal City said that there is no shame in walking away from the season after giving it their all.
"We never gave up. We fought to the very end," Natyshok said. "The season was a great experience. I loved it. These will be memories I will always have."
"It's been a great year and I enjoyed playing with all of these guys," Shetina said.
Onsen said that when given the time to reflect on the season, his team will feel good about what it accomplished this fall.
"You always want to win, and there are high expectations here, but we did get to the third round and were competitive," Onsen said.