PEOTONE – Second halves have not been kind to Coal City in any of the four football losses this season that have decimated its playoff chances.
The Coalers were down 3-0 at halftime of their 22-0 opening-week loss to Wilmington. They led Manteno 21-7 with five minutes to play before the Panthers rallied for a 22-21 Week 3 win. Coal City was then tied at 7-7 with Plano at halftime of the Week 6 game before the Reapers pulled away for a 35-14 victory.
Friday’s game at Peotone was deja vu all over again for the Coalers. They led 13-6 at halftime, but the Blue Devils scored 21 unanswered points during the third quarter and held on to win 33-26.
“We got a lot of kids playing both sides of the ball. We just don’t have enough to finish,” Coal City coach Lenny Onsen said. “You can look back at other games, but we had one right here – a good chance again [Friday against] a good football team.
“We’re at the edge [of winning]. It’s right there. It’s just a few things. Hopefully we keep bouncing back.”
On Friday, the Coalers held Peotone to 65 total yards in the first half. Peotone did not complete a pass. Jake Rapson, who was responsible for more than 53 percent of Peotone’s offense in its first six games, was held to 20 yards on nine carries.
In the second half, the Blue Devils gained 251 yards, with Rapson carrying 15 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Peotone quarterback Brandon Wenzel went 4-for-7 through the air for 65 yards and a touchdown and added a 41-yard run.
“Jake got going in that third quarter,” Peotone coach Jason Spang said. “That’s what we’re capable of. We’re a no-huddle offense. We like to go fast. We tell our guys, we’re gonna wear teams down in the third quarter. There’s been several games this year where we’ve exploded with points in the third quarter, just because we’re in shape and we’re well-conditioned.”
The Coal City offense, which scored points in every other quarter, was able to only get in position for a 44-yard field goal attempt, which missed, in the third. The Coalers did not complete a pass during the quarter, gained just 22 yards and lost a fumble.
While Coal City quarterback Brennen Shetina went 7-for-9 for 97 yards and a touchdown – and also rushed for another score – during the fourth quarter, it was not enough.
Nothing the Coalers do may be enough to get them into playoffs. They need to win at Westmont and home against Reed-Custer to become playoff eligible, and they may not finish with enough opponents’ wins – they currently have 29 – to qualify anyway.
“It may not be enough. We just gotta see,” Onsen said of winning out. “We put ourselves in a tough spot, so we gotta play extremely well the next two weeks and just hope, cause who knows what happens in those games? Nothing’s given.”