PALOS HEIGHTS – They’re called the beasts in the backfield, and in the St. Francis football team’s 49-0 whipping Friday of Chicago Christian, they showed why.
Senior running back James Butler and junior tailback T.J. Jackson – the beasts that make up St. Francis’ formidable running duo – each had big running touchdowns in the first half as the Spartans breezed to their third win of the season.
Chicago Christian only suited up 19 players and they were undersized, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. Despite the fact, the Knights forced a three and out on St. Francis’ first offensive possession as Butler was dropped for a two-yard loss.
The Spartans quickly got the ball back and scored on their next seven possessions. St. Francis quarterback Zach Prociuk, who set up the first of two Butler scores with a 27-yard scamper to the Chicago Christian three yard line, was effusive in praising of his backfield mates.
“The beasts in the backfield – it’s hard not to give them the ball when they’re back there,” Prociuk said. “When you’re running behind T.J., it’s just phenomenal and our offensive line blocks every time. They’re big, they’re fast and they move the ball.”
Butler is the smaller of the two backs, standing at only 5-foot-9, but makes up for his stature with a low running level and an incredible burst.
With Jackson leading the way, Butler ran for an 82-yard touchdown run, going untouched behind Jackson to put St. Francis up, 28-0.
Butler is a legitimate Division I prospect with a handful of programs hot on his tail. The 207-pound senior is taking in the Notre Dame – Purdue game from the Boilermakers’ sideline tonight.
“It feels good to do well personally but it feels better that we have a good team,” Butler said. “It makes it even sweeter going to battle with these guys. It hurt watching my team on the sideline last year.”
Butler was forced to sit out last season after transferring from Bartlett. He made the most of his six carries against Chicago Christian, scoring twice while gaining 92 yards.
Jackson scored on a 50-yard run through the center of the line to give St. Francis a comfortable 35-0 lead.
The Spartans can now turn their attention to a Week 4 showdown with fellow 3-0 power Montini.
Along with its running back tandem, St. Francis has the dual-threat Prociuk, who scored a rushing touchdown while also throwing a pair of 35-yard touchdown passes.
“Zach Prociuk is really improving as a quarterback – we’re really happy with him,” St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said. “We’re going to enjoy the game tonight and worry about Montini tomorrow at 9 a.m.”
Prociuk’s 35-yard touchdown pass to 6-8 wide-out Adam Hart made it 42-0 with 3:42 to go in the second quarter, forcing a running clock the entire second half.
ST. FRANCIS 49, CHICAGO CHRISTIAN 0
SF 21 28 0 0
CC 0 0 0 0
HOW THEY SCORED
SF – Butler 3 run (Hart Kick), 6:47
SF – Benton 35 pass from Prociuk (Hart kick), 4:49
SF – Prociuk 11 run (Hart kick), 2:03
SF – Butler 82 run (Hart kick), 9:06
SF – Jackson 50 run (Hart kick), 6:16
SF – Adam Hart 25 pass from Prociuk (Hart kick), 3:42
SF – Bobowski 50 run (Hart kick), 0:12
RUSHING: Chicago Christian: Rattler 10-8, Roundtree 12-10, Bolhuis 4 minus 11. Totals: 26-7; St. Francis: Butler 6-92, Jackson 2-59, Prociuk 2-38, Bobowski 3-79, Doyle 3-1, Pallardy 2-2, Marren 5-15, Berry 2-14, Pelletiere 1-6, Brundage 2-11. Totals: 27-317
PASSING: Chicago Christian: Bolhuis; 5-10-1-71; St. Francis: Prociuk; 4-6-97; Bobowski 1-1-19
RECEIVING: Chicago Christian: Roundtree 2-12, De Vries 2-11, Downs 1-50; St. Francis: Ahern 1-9, Zito 1-19, Benton; 1-35, Hart 1-35, Petrando 1-19
Total yards: Chicago Christian: 78; St. Francis: 433