ELGIN – The St. Francis football team’s plan Friday was simple.
Beat St. Edward in the season finale and say a few prayers.
The Spartans came into the game needing a win against the Green Wave while hoping their playoff points add up to put them in the 5A field, which is announced tonight.
Behind the legs of Jack Petrando and on the back of a stout defense, the Spartans (5-4, 3-4 Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division) took care of the first part of the equation with a 19-7 win.
All the Spartans can do now is hope their resume has enough merit to put them in the playoff field.
“Nothing is better than being playoff eligible so this feels great,” St. Francis linebacker Kyle Wedoff said. “We knew we had to go out there and give everything we had. We knew we had to give 100 percent effort every time. Our defense showed up and played fantastic. We’ve got a lot of hoping to do tonight, but I’m confident we’ll get in.”
Both teams had trouble with the natural grass in the early going as heavy rains reduced the middle of the field to a muddy mess.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Spartans dented the scoreboard with a 15-yard drive that was set up by an Alex Alcantara 40-yard punt return. Petrando’s two-yard scamper was part of a busy evening for the senior, who missed much of the season with a knee injury. The Spartans’ first 14 plays from scrimmage went through Petrando.
“I love getting the ball every time, it’s great. The conditions weren’t the greatest; there was a lot of slipping out there,” Petrando said. “I was making a lot of hard cuts in the first half but started to slow down a little more in the second half. I knew what I had to do and started getting easier cuts in the second half.”
After feeding Petrando exclusively on its first three drives, the Spartans quarterback Michael Robinson faked a hand-off to Petrando before handing the ball to Dan Beck, who split a tackle and rumbled 60 yards to give St. Francis a 13-0 lead.
“Terrible night weather wise but we knew that we had to do what we had to do,” St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said. “Our kids up front did a great job and that’s what you have to do in a game like tonight. Jack Petrando ran extremely well and Dan Beck blocked well. Our inside five of [Kyle] Bosch, [Robert] Dwyer, [James] Kalfas, [Alex] Napoli and [Josh] Croci – they played well in the mud.”
The Spartans put the game in its defense’s hands the rest of the night. Save for a 47-yard touchdown run early in the second half from St. Edward (2-7, 1-7) quarterback Mikey Castoro, the Green Wave offense was mostly bottled up.
Wedoff, who led the Spartans with six tackles including three for a loss, was part of a St. Francis defense that had to deal with 10 penalties that gave the Green Wave second and third chances on a number of drives.
After a Petrando 21-yard touchdown run made it 19-7, the Spartans looked to have stopped St. Edward on the next drive as Wedoff sacked Castoro for a big loss. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on St. Francis set up a fourth-and-1 from the St. Francis 38. Wedoff and a host of Spartans were up to the task as they dropped Green Wave running back Davontae Elam for a two-yard loss that gave St. Francis the ball back.
“We’ve been taught all year to deal with that sort of thing [penalties] and that’s shows a sign of character on how we responded to that,” Wedoff said. “We worked for Friday night all week and left it all out there.”
Petrando, who led the Spartans with 139 yards and two touchdowns, will sit back and hope the Spartans have done enough to get into the playoff field.
“I just want to get in, I just want a chance,” Petrando said. “I really don’t care who we play, I just want a chance.”
ST. FRANCIS 19, ST. EDWARD 7
St. Francis 0 13 0 6 – 19
St. Edward 0 0 7 0 – 7
HOW THEY SCORED
SF – Petrando 2 run (Schultz kick), 11:31
SF – Beck 60 run (kick failed), 6:07
SE – Castoro 47 run (French kick), 9:19
SF – Petrando 21 run (Two point attempt failed), 10:34
RUSHING – St. Francis: Petrando 24-139, Beck 4-62, Robinson 2-6, Marren 1- minus 1, Prociuk 1- minus 3. Totals: 32-203. St. Edward: Elam 22-44, Bothwell 8-18, Castoro 9-49, Arreguin 1-8, Plazewski 1-1, Berlin 1-7, J. Koehring 1-4. Totals:44-131.
PASSING – St. Francis: Robinson 1-3-1-11, Prociuk 0-1-0. St. Edward: O’Neill: 1-1-9, Elam 0-2-1-0, Castoro 0-3-0, T. Koehring 1-1-0-14
RECEIVING – St. Francis: Brundage 1-11 St. Edward: J. Koehring 2-32
TOTAL YARDS – St. Francis 214, St. Edward 163