2004 1A Finals Preview
Friday Nov 26th
United's run to the title game started with an avenging win over one of their 2 losses overToulon (Stark County)who had beaten them in week 2, 36-30. United won most of it's games soundly, but it's second round match up withPrincevillewould be a nail biter that was decided by 3 points.
While 1A only had 2 undefeated teams United's run to the finals would see a convincing victory overMackinaw (Deer Creek-M.), who'd been scoring outscoring teams by 25 points a game and was one of IHSFW.com's top picks for the 1A Title. Triopia HS would be the last team to fall on United's way to the finals. Triopia, who had made their second straight semi-finals appearance in as many years, would be sent home early again as United out scored them by 20 points. This would be the second title game for Alexis, as they finished 2nd in 2A in the IHSA's first playoff in 1974. Warren never made a title game.
United's many offensive weapon is their running game. QB Zach Youngquist (6'2 185 sr.) has been dishing the ball off to his backs all season. United has been using the legs of three different runners, who have been taking off for an average of 7.5 yards a carry. While at 5'9 190 he's not the bruising fullback you'd expect to see in the bigger classes, Greg McGrew with his 1304 yards & 17 TDs leads the team in yards rushing & scoring, as well as on defense.
Queuing up on McGrew may not be the smartest angle to take on defense though. Like so many teams who were eliminated, that only had just a single runner, United can always & will dish the ball off to Tyler Rundle (RB 6' 175 sr.) & Jared VanFleet (RB 5'9 165 sr.), both who have 800 plus yards & a 7 yard average carry.
Greg McGrew would probably have twice as many yards if it weren't for him playing both ways. Handing the ball off to VanFleet & Rundle will be a good way to keep his legs fresh as the teams leading tackler will have his hands full on defense as Stockton's runners will be looking to keep up their average rush at 5 yards. Not to mention QB Andy Jordan has been know to air it out. Throwing for over 1000 yards this season.
The Blackhawks are no stranger to the title game. having made the big show 4 previous times, winning 2 of them. The last in 1991. Winning a title would place Stockton in with an elite group of 19 schools who have won 3 or more championships.
The Blackhawks will be looking to force United to put the ball in the air. Stockton shut down Aurora Christian's running game forcing them to pass into a good defensive backfield. While their own offense pushed the ball down the middle with Kevin Smith (RB 5'8 170 jr.) & Kyle Korth (RB 6'2 195 sr.) gaining big yards on many of the plays.
Korth leads the team in rushing & scoring (1025 yards & 19 TDs), but a number of backs, Smith, Nick Langerfield & Matt Paja are all averaging 5 plus yards a carry.
The Hawks are not big on kicking though. With just 2 PAT & 2 field goal attempts the whole season, theNorthwest Upstate Illini (North)co-champs will be looking to go for 2 points after each score.
While the Blackhawks don't stand out on defense as a brick wall, as a team they've given up on average just 10 points a game. Lead on defense by Darin Oppold (LB 6'1 191 Sr.) with 70 solo tackles, the Hawks actually average more size in their defensive backfield than the front 4. Of course that's partially due to 5'6 152 pound nose tackle & running back Paja, who manages to squeeze through the line and cause havoc in the offensive backfield.
Odd fact about the Hawks. They seem to have a thing for scoring in the second quarter. Look for possible long passes as half time approaches as Stockton has scored almost 100 points more in the 2nd quarter than any other.
by Vincent Johnson