ST. CHARLES – St. Charles East and Larkin had plenty of practice Friday at hanging on.
Their Upstate Eight Conference River Division clash was played on a rain-soaked Norris Stadium field that had become a quagmire by the end of the sophomore game. The sloppy conditions made securing the football difficult.
Ultimately, the Saints (6-3, 5-1) did a better job of handling the slippery pigskin, slipping and sliding their way to a 26-0 victory that guaranteed them a berth in the postseason.
“What a mess for everybody,” said East coach Mike Fields. “We’re just happy to get No. 6. … I’m excited for the kids. I’m real excited for Joe Hoscheit. Joe’s been with us for three years. The past two years he hasn’t been able to make it to the playoffs. He’s been our leader and our warrior.”
Hoscheit was all that against the Royals, carrying the ball eight times for 100 yards, scoring a pair of touchdowns, and serving as an anchor from his linebacker position for a defense that held Larkin to under 100 yards.
“It was awesome to see that zero on the board,” Hoscheit said. “Even when the [reserves] got in, we all had that one goal to keep that zero up there. We knew what happened last year [a 26-20 Larkin victory]. That was just heartbreaking at our homecoming. We wanted to come out this year and show them what an improved team we are.”
They did that, scoring on their first three possessions. The first two drives were mirror images, with tailback Erik Anderson (16 carries, 61 yards) getting most of the carries, but Hoscheit slithering his way for a couple of long runs from his fullback spot.
“We just decided we’re going to base everything off of going north and south, trying to get some footing under the guys,” Fields said. “Erik had some trouble early on trying to go laterally a little bit. Joe didn’t seem to have a problem. He had some good footing, and we were very fortunate for that.”
A 32-yard run by Hoscheit set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Mitchell to Brannon Barry for East’s first score. On the Saints’ next drive, Hoscheit took it from 31 yards, taking a hand off up the middle and slipping through a pair of tacklers before breaking to the outside.
“I just saw a little hole outside, and there was green grass out here,” said Hoscheit, standing on one of the few parts of the field not turned into muck. “It was pretty easy to cut out here. There was just great blocking, too.”
The third touchdown came on a 9-yard pass from Mitchell to Matt Allen after Mitchell had connected with Mitch Munroe for 38 yards down the left sideline.
A 64-yard interception return by Andrew Badowski early in the third quarter set up the game’s final score, a 12-yard burst up the middle by Hoscheit. After that, the game devolved into a mud bath of mishandled snaps, botched pitches, unrecognizable uniform numbers and lost footing.
“This was a blast,” Hoscheit said. “It could have gone any way with the way the field was. Everyone was slipping and sliding. Luckily, we came out on top.”
Although the Royals fumbled 12 times in the game, they lost only two. The Saints lost four of their five fumbles.
ST. CHARLES EAST 26, LARKIN 0
Larkin 0 0 0 0 – 0
St. Charles East 12 6 8 0 – 26 HOW THEY SCORED
First quarter SCE – Barry 4 pass from Mitchell (run failed), 7:33 SCE – Hoscheit 31 run (run failed), 2:29Second quarter SCE – Allen 9 pass from Mitchell (run failed), 10:58Third quarter SCE – Hoscheit 12 run (Hoscheit pass from Mitchell), 8:14INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING – Larkin: Clemons 12-60, Khan 1-minus 7, Duran 3-minus 17, Blalark 11-minus 29, Jackson 9-47, Bonds 2-0. Totals: 38-54. St. Charles East: Anderson 16-61, Locascio 3-2, Hoscheit 8-100, Hopper 2-7, Mitchell 3-minus 16, Cameron 3-1, Sciarrino 4-16, Dupuis 1-6. Totals: 40-177. PASSING – Larkin: Blalark 1-3-1-minus 4. St. Charles East: Mitchell 4-8-1-60.RECEIVING – Larkin: Clemons 1-minus 4. St. Charles East: Barry 2-13, Munroe 1-38, Allen 1-9.TOTAL YARDS – St. Charles East 237, Larkin 50.