Here is my game recap of #4 Homewood-Flossmoor vs #3 Lincoln-Way East including who stood out in this game.
I’m constantly making changes to this article so please let me know on Twitter @lemminginsider if you guys like this format or if I should change it up for next time. I really appreciate any thoughts.
This was a back and forth game for the Vikings who where down 21-7 at one point, but ultimately came out on top. They had some big plays made by some big-time players and some made by some slightly lesser known names (that I believe are underrated) as well. Up 35-28 with about 3:30 left in the game and on their own (about) 15 yard line, the Vikings took and intentional safety to put the ball in the hands of Lincoln Way East down only 5 with 3:08 remaining in the game. Lincoln Way received the free kick then got inside the Vikings 40 in 2 quick plays, which is about where the Griffins would have gotten the ball if the Vikings punted instead of taking a safety, but this time the Griffins were only down 5 with a touchdown to win it instead of a touchdown to tie it. Lincoln Way East had a catchable, albeit not the easiest, ball in the endzone dropped for what would have given them the lead with little time remaining. Vikings starting punter Tyler DeMartra left the game due to injury and likely had something to do with the team taking the intentional safety. Regardless, Homewood Flossmoor came out on top this game and that is all that really matters.
Players That Stood Out
Tyrice Richie: The Vikings #1 WR and Northern Illinois commit Richie (LPI #12 WR) had a huge day making big plays with regularity. He showed is great speed by reeling in 3 40+ yard receptions and simply blowing by the DB’s on 2 of those occasions. However, likely his most impressive play was on a short pass near the Homewood Flossmoor bench. Richie caught a 5 yard or so pass then showed off his strength by stiff arming and throwing a defender off him then proceeded to show his wheels beating the rest of the defense in a footrace to the endzone. Richie was the go-to-guy for the Vikings and looked every bit like the NIU recruit that he is. He will be moving up in my WR rankings when they come out.
Herbert Hughes: Coming into this game I liked Hughes(LPI #8 RB), but thought he would be the victim of a RB committee this year thus limiting his upside. However, Hughes didn’t need a lot of plays to show off his stuff cranking out a 51 yard run and a 78 yard TD run in limited carriers. On the 78 yard run, the Vikings pulled OL John Michael Schmitz out in front to open a nice hole for Hughes to run through. Hughes made a nice cutback to make a defender miss, then broke a few arms tackles and was off to the races. Some fans next to me where complaining about Hughes “dancing” in the backfield, and while he may get a little to cute a times, that is his way of being patient and waiting for holes to open. Once those holes open, Hughes shows great burst throw the hole and can break arm tackles with ease. D1 coaches need to watch out for this kid. Tyler Nutall also carried the load at RB along with Hughes.
Tyler DeMartra: This is another kid that I think is pretty underrated with only 1 D1 offer from South Dakota State. He’s 6’3″ 200 lbs and plays both DB and WR. Lincoln Way East made an early habit of running a read-option screen pass to WR Nick Zelenika with great success. The Griffins never really intended to run the ball, rather they faked the handoff then tossed the screen out to Zelenika who usually picked up 5-10 yards on it. However, Lincoln Way East started to mix it up running the same play then faking the screen to Zelenika and throwing a deep ball to big WR Jeremy Nelson. This play worked a few times with Nelson reeling one in for a TD, but DeMartra picked up on it and made a really nice play showing great instincts and anticipating a throw to Jeremy Nelson by jumping the route and picking off the Jake Arthur pass. DeMartra left the game in the 2nd quarter and did not return, but showed promise in limited time this game.
Justin Hall: Junior Justin Hall is a S/ATH with great speed. I really would have liked him to have gotten a few more carriers or even a screen pass or two on offense so he could get in space and show off his wheels. Regardless, Hall played well on defense breaking up a few big passes in key moments for the Vikings. Sitting on one offer from Central Michigan, that will change soon.
Bryant Wright: Senior Wright isn’t the biggest QB at 5’11” 185, but that didn’t stop him from making big plays. With about 10 minutes left in the second quarter Wright already had 2 TD passes and a TD run. He looked to Richie on the outside the most and the two had great success this game.
John Michael Schmitz: Schmitz, the Western Michigan commit, played LT and often had the assignment of blocking standout DE Devin O’Rourke. I would say both players did a good job as Schmitz kept him in check on a lot of plays, while O’Rourke still did have a few big plays. When a DL not named Devin O’Rourke lined up against Schmitz it seemed like Schmitz had a lot easier time dealing with him (rightfully so). Overall, he looked solid and did a good job this game.
Jamezz Kimbrough/Jack Doyle: Central Michigan commit Jamezz Kimbrough is a mean dude. You do not want to mess with him. He had his way with the Griffin OL early, but seemed to have a bit more trouble as the game went on, ultimately settling in and playing well overall. As for fellow OL and Valparaiso offer Jack Doyle, I didn’t see him standout much, but I also didn’t see him get beat much. Not a bad thing.
Lincoln Way East
Going into this game both teams new this was a must win. You could feel the energy immediately when you walked into the stadium. That energy transcended from the players on the field, through the stands and especially so in the student sections. The Griffins were riding high after easy wins of 49-12 and 35-0 over South Bend, Adams (IN) and Belleville West. Playing Homewood Flossmoor was the first true test for Lincoln Way this year. Coach Rob Zvonar was insistent of his 2 QB system all the way through the closing drives of this game with Jake Arthur and Max Shafer both getting the call. They had a chance to take the lead with just over 1 minute remaining on a pass into the endzone, but they couldn’t reel it in. They played great overall with minimal penalties, but couldn’t capitalize on the last drive to take the lead.
Players That Stood Out
Devin O’Rourke: Coming into the game with offers from Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois Junior Devin O’Rourke stands 6’6″ 240 lbs and already looks like a D1 DE. He is simply a man-child or as the kids like to say “a beast” on the field. Yes, he did go up against Western Michigan commit John Michael Schmitz a lot and was neutralized on a lot of plays, but when a big play for the Griffin defense happened O’Rourke was in the middle of it. One play in particular really stood out. Homewood Flossmoor was driving deep into Griffin territory when O’Rourke sprung into the Viking backfield and punched the ball out on the QB-RB exchange with the Griffins recovering the fumble. Big-time recruits make big-time plays and that is certainly what O’Rourke did using his great combination of size, speed and strength to make big plays. He could be 2018’s AJ Epenesa and is certainly a top 5 kid out of Illinois to watch in the class of 2018.
Zack Tencza/Kyle Julius: Tencza is a kid that really stood out to me for the Griffins. He plays opposite of O’Rourke as a DE so he may get a bit overshadowed because of it. He isn’t as big or strong as O’Rourke (6’5″ 215 lbs), but its fairly easy to confuse the two for each other at first glance. Tencza made the occasional big play against good OL in Schmitz, Kimbrough and Doyle for HF, not easy to do. He runs a 4.58, is quick off the line and athletic. He has an offer from Valpo, but is another kid college coaches need to watch this year. DT Kyle Julius also made some nice stops for the Griffins.
Sam Diehl: Colgate commit Sam Diehl did a good job keeping opposing DL out of the backfield and giving QBs Arthur and Shafer time to throw. He displayed great balance, got his arms extended in the DL and didn’t let them get past him more times than not. He didn’t really stand out with many impressive pancake blocks, but got his job done.
Jake Arthur/Max Shafer: Both QBs played well this game and seemed to be equally trusted by head coach Rob Zvonar with both being deployed in crucial 4th quarter drives. Arthur got the start and had a of success early hooking up with WR Jeremy Nelson on 2 TD’s on the Griffins first 2 drives. He slowed after that giving way to teammate Max Shafer. It seemed like the Homewood Flossmoor defense figured out the Griffin’s screen pass, screen pass, fake screen pass-deep ball offense after the team’s first two drives and made it tough for Shafer to come in and adjust right away. Arthur looked good early, but other than a couple nice passes from each QB they both looked just okay this game.
Nigel Muhammed/Brendan Morrissey/Ryan Scianna: Senior Muhammed opened the game at RB with a 18 yard run on the first play from scrimmage. He was the leading ball carrier for the Griffins, but was relatively quiet the rest of the game as Lincoln Way East was very pass heavy this game. Brendan Morrissey and Ryan Scianna also got some work in at RB for the Griffins with Morrissey punching the ball in for a short TD.
Jeremy Nelson: Nelson was the deep threat receiver for QBs Arthur and Shafer this game. He started off the day with 2 TD receptions on the first 2 Griffin possessions. It looked to be smooth sailing for the Griffins and Nelson, but both their successes were slowed down shortly thereafter. Part of it was the timely play calling, but it seemed like Nelson was open with regularity. While he didn’t have many 50/50 balls this game, he’s a big target at 6’4″ 195 lbs, perfect for 1on1 deep balls.
Nick Zelenika: Zelenika was the go to receiver this game for the Griffins and was used almost entirely in the screen game. He had to have 10 catches this game with most seemingly for 5-7 yards each. He did pick up yardage with his short catches, but his main role though was to substitute for play action and set up the deep ball to Nelson for Lincoln Way.
Kenny Anderson: This kid looks a lot like teammate Jeremy Nelson and was the teams intermediate threat this game. He’s 6’4″ 175 lbs and has excellent hands. He made an impressive full extension catch keeping his feet in bounds on a 3rd and long for the Griffins and another shoestring catch later in the game. With his size, route running ability and exceptional hands he’s another to look out for on this squad.