Evergreen Park’s historic season comes to an end
By Pat Disabato email@example.com November 17, 2012 10:28PM
Evergreen Park's #23 Mike Reuter pulls in a long pass to set up an early 1st quarter touchdown. Rock Island Alleman vs. Evergreen Park football at Evergreen Park High School in Evergreen Park, Illinois, Saturday, November 17, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:27PM
Alleman didn’t do anything Evergreen Park wasn’t expecting Saturday during their Class 4A semifinal game.
But what the Pioneers do — run the football on offense and swarm the quarterback on defense, they do very well.
Alleman rushed for 206 yards and held Evergreen Park to 234 yards of total offense, a good chunk of which came when the outcome was decided.
In the end, Alleman walked out of Evergreen Park with a 23-7 win and a date with Rochester Friday in the 4A title game.
The Mustangs, who advanced further than any team in the program’s history, finished at 9-4.
“They were getting a great push from their offensive line,” Evergreen Park coach Dan Hartman said. “They run the dive and the option — that’s what they do. Defensively, they were bringing it on third down. They were coming after us in passing situations. We made some mistakes too.”
The game started out well enough for the Mustangs. After a three-and-out by Alleman on its first possession of the game, Evergreen Park took over on its own 29 and marched down field. Twelve plays later, White scored from three yards out. Jeremy Esparza added the point-after kick at 2:57 of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Then on the ensuing kick-off, Esparza laced his kick intentionally off an Alleman player and Evergreen Park recovered on the Pioneers 45-yard line.
With a standing room only crowd in a frenzy, the Mustangs had an ideal opportunity to extend their lead and take control of the game.
However, the Pioneers defense stood its ground, never allowing the Mustangs to cross beyond the 34-yard line. Alleman (12-1)eventually took over on downs.
“That was huge,” said Alleman coach Dave DeJaegher of denying Evergreen Park on that drive. “It could have been a huge momentum swing for them. They could have gone up two scores.”
Instead, it was Alleman doing all the scoring the rest of the game.
Sean Wetherell burst in from three yards out to tie the score 7-7 after Connor Whan’s kick at 11:23 of the second quarter.
Alleman extended its lead to 13-7 with 32.1 ticks remaining in the half when quarterback John Tracey found Wetherell in the end zone. Whan’s kick was no good.
The Pioneers then squib-kicked the ensuing kickoff and the Mustangs had all sorts of trouble getting a handle on the ball. Alleman’s C.J. Kolls recovered the pigskin at the Evergreen Park 25-yard line. Whan would convert a 27-yard field goal for a 16-7 advantage at the half.
“Scoring twice like that at the end of the half changed the momentum,” Hartman admitted.
The Pioneers wouldn’t attempt a single pass the second half — all 33 plays were runs. When Tracey slipped in from the 1-yard line with 3:54 to go in the fourth quarter, it capped off an impressive 17-play, 59-yard drive that gave the Pioneers a 23-7 lead after Wahn’s kick.
The Pioneers defense held White in check, limiting the senior to 51 yards rushing on 20 carries and 136 yards passing on a 7-of-22 effort. Junior wide receiver Jacquet McClendon was held without a catch until 2:31 remained in the game.