Memory Monday: 2007 football title run ends a step away

SJO fans fill the stands
St. Joseph fans fill the stands and every available spot along the fence line for the 2007 semifinal playoff game against Plano on November 10, 2007. Fifty-one weeks earlier the two teams clashed in a record-setting IHSA Class 3A title game, where the Reapers came out on top in a thriller, 47-42. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Tailgating at St Joseph-Ogden High School
Left: St. Joseph-Ogden fan Connie Bickers enjoys the SJO tailgate before the game. Right: Hundreds of family and fans tailgate in the parking lot before kickoff of St. Joseph-Ogden's home semi-final against the Plano Reapers. See more memorable moments captured from the game here: 2007 St. Joseph-Ogden vs Plano Football Playoff Game. Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The journey in 2007

Robinson, 41-0
Salt Fork Coop, 41-6
Momence, 46-14
Clifton Central, 42-20
Iroquois West, 49-12
St. Thomas More, 28-0
Watseka, 53-13
Tri-Point, 1-0
Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 68-0
Christian Life, 45-7
Wilmington, 26-7
Plano, 22-26
Members of the SJO Dance team preform before the start of the game. They also performed again during the halftime show during the postseason game. Click here to view more photos St. Joseph-Ogden's competitive dance team. PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

SJO concession stand
Longtime St. Joseph-Ogden resident and sports fan Dick Sumption places an order at the concession stand with Andi Morgan before the start of the game. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Spartan defenders Michael Bialeschki, Michael Cessna and Lukas Graves wrap up Plano's Luis Alvarado in first half action of their game. The trio, who suffered just two losses in the two consecutive seasons of SJO football, had an impressive varsity win-loss record of 25-2. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Tyler Johnson hands off the ball to Will Lindsey Lukas Graves makes a TD catch
Left: Tyler "Hollywood" Johnson hands off the ball to Will "The Flash" Lindsey. (Side bar: Covering the team and interviewing some of the players for ten plus weeks, I could help but to give these gifted athletes nicknames. Lindsey, the fastest runner on the team and track state-qualifier in the sprint events, earned his sobriquet obviously because of his explosive speed. Every post-game interview Johnson, a three-sport athlete, was like covering a Hollywood press conference. Cool, confident and a faster thinker on his feet with the sharpest curve ball questions, he never failed to deliver a great quote after a game.)

Right: Senior Lukas Graves make an over the shoulder catch on a pass from Tyler Johnson in first quarter action against the Reapers. In the 2006 title game against Plano, then a junior, he made nine catches for 211 yards. As of today, Graves is still tied for number one for the most number of catches and number of touchdowns (2) in an IHSA Class 3A championship game. His receiving yard total to this day, twelve years later, is still a 3A best. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Dick Duval
Head coach Dick Duval heads back to the field to start the second half against Plano. Though the Spartans would later come up heartrendingly short on the scoreboard, looking back from that day for the past four years, SJO under Duval's tutelege suffered just five losses in the 50 games the program played during that period. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Student fans cheer for their team Nick Rogiers heads to the line of scrimmage
Left: Student fans cheer for the Spartans during the second half of the game. Right: Nick Rogiers heads to the line of scrimmage in the second half for the next play. The defensive end was one of the hardest hitting tacklers on the field that season. Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Jake Oltean reacts after the game
Game over. Season over. Manager Jake Oltean reacts in silence after his Spartan football falls 26-22 loss to the Reapers. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Cheerleaders shed tears
Two cheerleaders share a hug in solace after the emotional loss while players from both teams shake hands at the 50 yard line. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Eli Marlow
Eli Marlow hugs a fellow player after the Spartans season ending loss, just one touchdown away from playing in a second consecutive state football championship game. See more photos from this emotional game by clicking here. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks