Monday, September 25, 2023

First girl scores in IL championship game


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The 2A championship football game in Illinois Friday will be noted for something other than the final score in the annals of Illinois football.

The prelude came as Paul Hornstra, a running back for the Immaculate Conception Knights who had scored 15 touchdowns this season before this game, scored his 16th in the third quarter here to give the Knights a 29-3 lead. Then the Knights’ place kicker came on the field to attempt the point after touchdown.

In any other game, that would be routine, but this is a state final, and the Knights’ place kicker is female: Olivia Vatch, a 5’6″ junior at Immaculate Conception.

When she converted the point after touchdown with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter, she became the first girl to ever score in a state championship football game in any class. Will Cronin, the team’s quarterback, provided the hold, and the kick was right down the middle.

Coach Bill Schmidt said after the game, “A little bit of history! We like doing that.”

Following Mr. Hornstra’s next rushing touchdown, she attempted the point after again with 10:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. This time, she missed it.

With a victory, Immaculate Conception became the state’s 2A champion. Casey-Westfield’s quarterback Mitch Snyder put in a good effort, throwing more and completing more passes than he had ever done in his career. In the end, though, it was too little too late, as Immaculate Conception won the game, 36-17.

Immaculate Conception is a Catholic high school located in Elmhurst, Ill.

When asked by an IHSA reporter what led her to join the football team, Ms. Vatch said, “A football team has a special bond that they share,” and mentioned that no other team has such a unique bond. About making history, she said, “It still hasn’t clicked in with me yet. I’m the luckiest person in the world.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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