Monday, January 30, 2023

Championship caps winningest coach’s career

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Football coach Ken Leonard of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Illinois, recorded his 419th victory in his 500th game as a head coach Friday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign in the state’s Class 4A state championship game. He said he would now retire.

Coach Ken Leonard (WCIA-TV screenshot)

“I said, ‘Enjoy this because it’s really hard to get here and really hard to win,'” the State Journal-Register quoted him as saying about the title game. “You’ve got to be good; you’ve got to be lucky.”

The state title, putting the finishing touch on a 14-0 season, was the sixth in the coach’s career, as SHG also won it in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, and 2014. In his career at SHG, which began in 1984, he has averaged fewer than 2 losses per season, an impressive record of consistency. His total wins, however, 419, is more than any other varsity football coach in Illinois history.

“Some of my best teams never made it,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying. “Sometimes you just get on a roll. There are so many little things you have to get past. … It went by in a blink. When I started, I never dreamed I would coach 500 games.”

The final score of the game was Sacred Heart-Griffin 44, Providence Catholic (from New Lenox) 20.

Drive-by-drive summary

(1) SHG on own 43, Q1-11:56

3-and-out, including a penalty and sack. Net loss of 12 yards. Punt.

(2) PROV on own 42, Q1-10:46

3-and-out. Punt.

(3) SHG on own 26, Q1-9:09

3-and-out. Punt.

(4) PROV on own 44, Q1-7:43

3-and-out. Punt.

(5) SHG on own 12, Q1-6:12

On the first play of the drive, Richard Jackson broke loose for an 84-yard rush off-tackle left, all the way down to the PROV 4-yard line. Then, on the next play, he ran right up the middle into the end zone. TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 7, PROV 0. 5:38 remaining in the first quarter.

(6) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q1-5:38

A pass from Lucas Proudfoot to Charlie Soltys gained 39 yards on a critical third-down conversion that was snapped at the PROV 39 and took the ball down to the SHG 24-yard line. The drive was otherwise long and labored, ticking off yards piece by piece, before switching sides for the second quarter. The drive ended on the first play of the second quarter with a Proudfoot pass to Anthony Picciolini from the 4-yard line. TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 7, PROV 7. 11:48 remaining in the second quarter.

(7) SHG on own 31, Q2-11:51

Two passes from quarterback Ty Lott—one for 36 yards to Jack Western on a third-down conversion and the next for 28 yards to Jake Hamilton—took the Cyclones to the end zone. TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 14, PROV 7. 10:49 remaining in the second quarter.

(8) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q2-10:49

The Celtics drove to their own 47-yard line, where a long pass on a third-down play was INTERCEPTED by DeAndre Stewart and returned for 2 yards.

(9) SHG on own 20 (after interception), Q2-7:10

A short pass from Ty Lott to Bill Sanders on a 3rd-and-10 play from their own 46-yard line netted 54 yards for the Cyclones, underscoring the importance of “yards after catch,” and scoring a TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 21, PROV 7. 6:36 remaining in the second quarter.

(10) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q2-6:36

3-and-out. Punt.

(11) SHG on own 38, Q2-5:36

3-and-out. Punt, then a 19-yard return by Mitchell Voltz.

(12) PROV on SHG 45, Q2-4:34

Methodically marching down the field, including a 22-yard rush by Mason Santiago, the Celtics reached the end zone with a 3-yard rush by Kaden Nickel. TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 21, PROV 14. 2:20 remaining in the second quarter.

(13) SHG on own 37, Q2-2:15

3-and-out. Punt.

(14) PROV on own 49, Q2-1:06

On the strength of two runs and a pass, Providence made their way to the 24-yard line and called timeout with about 2 seconds left before halftime. They set up a field goal attempt, and with the ball spotted at the 31-yard line, Sean Sample’s 41-yard field goal attempt came up short. The half ended on this drive.

(15) PROV at own 20 (touchback), Q3-12:00

3-and-out. Punt.

(16) SHG at own 27, Q3-10:19

After gaining only 2 yards on a quarterback keeper, Lott decided to pass, which he did for two first downs. But then, three successive incomplete passes from the Providence 34-yard line, including one on a 4th-and-10, ended the drive and turned the ball over to the Celtics.

(17) PROV at own 34 (on downs), Q3-8:38

3-and-out. Punt.

(18) SHG on own 40, Q3-7:05

Two big passes from Lott to Maddixx Morris took the Cyclones into the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 28, PROV 14. 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.

(19) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q3-5:14

Apparent 3-and-out, but the snap in punt formation to Lott (the team’s quarterback) resulted in an incomplete pass from the 21-yard line and a turnover on downs.

(20) SHG on PROV 21 (on downs), Q3-3:26

With the help of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Providence, the ball ended up on the 14-yard line without the Cyclones running a play. A 13-yard rush to the right on a quarterback keeper brough Lott’s squad down to the 1-yard line, where Bill Sanders rushed for a TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. SHG 35, PROV 14. 3:02 remaining in the third quarter.

(21) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q3-3:02

After a short rush, a 25-yard pass attempt was INTERCEPTED by J’veon Bardwell at the 45-yard line and returned to the PROV 19-yard line.

(22) SHG on PROV 19 (after interception), Q3-2:00

Two penalties took the ball all the way back to the 30-yard line. The Cyclones were thus 4th-and-goal from the 30 and decided to attempt a field goal. The 47-yard FIELD GOAL by Mason Grove was good. SHG 38, PROV 14. 1:35 remaining in the third quarter.

(23) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q3-1:35

A few short gains brought the Celtics to the end of the third quarter and possession on their own 45, where a 4th-and-9 decision led them to punt the ball away.

(24) SHG on own 11, Q4-11:47

The first play resulted in a 6-yard loss on a rush by Bill Sanders. But on the next play with his back against his own end zone, he rushed for 80 yards, carrying the ball to the PROV 15. After the enforcement of a few penalties, he then ran the ball into the end zone for a 15-yard rushing TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was short. SHG 44, PROV 14. 10:12 remaining in the fourth quarter.

(25) PROV on own 20 (touchback), Q4-10:12

A 52-yard pass play from Proudfoot to Soltys on a 3rd-and-5 play in the middle of the drive brought the Celtics down to the SHG 4-yard line, where two quarterback keepers on the next three plays took the ball into the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN. The point-after-touchdown kick was blocked. SHG 44, PROV 20. 7:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.

(26) SHG on own 47 (recovered onside kick), Q4-7:21

3-and-out. Punt.

(27) PROV on own 38, Q4-6:41

The defense stepped up to sack the Celtic quarterback twice (Reggie Thomas) and force four incomplete passes, including a 4th-and-22 attempt from the SHG 43. Possession turned over on downs.

(28) SHG on own 43 (on downs), Q4-4:40

3-and-out. Punt.

(29) PROV on own 46, Q4-3:28

Two complete and three incomplete passes netted the Celtics only 19 yards and gave the ball back to the Cyclones on downs.

(30) SHG on own 35 (on downs), Q4-2:56

3-and-out. Punt.

(31) PROV on SHG 48, Q4-0:28

The game ended after one rushing play.

Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
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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