ST. JOSEPH – Aurora Central Catholic and St. Joseph-Ogden are complete opposites when it comes to Class 3A football prowess.
St. Joe’s has reached the IHSA playoffs 22 straight years under head coach Dick Duval, while the Chargers on Saturday made their first appearance in postseason play since 1997.
On a chilly fall night at St. Joseph, the outcome played out as their pedigrees might suggest, as the Spartans eliminated Aurora Central Catholic, 42-23, in a game that was lopsided most of the way.
“I don’t think we necessarily played as well as we were capable of,” Aurora Central Catholic coach Brian Casey said. “There’s no blame to be handed out, these kids fought their rear ends off.”
Throughout the night, the Chargers (6-4) couldn’t slow down the aerial assault put on by Dalton Walsh and the St. Joseph-Ogden offense. Walsh tossed three touchdowns for the Spartans (9-1), with two of them going to senior wide receiver Louis Acklin.
ACC came out of the gates strong, with an opening drive field goal. After trading defensive stops, the Chargers were on offense when the momentum shifted. ACC coughed up a fumble deep in its own territory, which was recovered by St. Joseph-Ogden.
The very next play, Walsh hit Acklin on a 20-yard touchdown pass to give his team the lead. After a three-and-out by the Chargers, the Spartans marched down the field and Walsh tallied another touchdown, this time on a perfectly executed fade route to Aaron Woller to push the advantage to 14-3 just a few minutes into the start of the second quarter.
“We were chasing two scores, and I think we unraveled a little bit,” Casey said. “There was a bit of panic there.”
The staple of the ACC offense is the double wing formation, not exactly the perfect scenario to come back from when down multiple touchdowns.
Complicating matters offensively for the Chargers was having starting QB Matt Rahn out due to a bout with mono and with injuries to backups, Matt Schaefer was thrust into the role the past two weeks.
“I can’t say enough about Matt Schaefer,” Casey said. “He was playing a different position two weeks ago. ... He goes from being the backup fullback to the starting quarterback.”
The Spartans move on to play at Wilmington (8-2) next Saturday.