SJO picks up win #3 beating Central Catholic

Friday the 13th was not a lucky night to visit the SJO Sports Complex. Bloomington Central Catholic, with no wins and a pair of losses, came to St. Joseph in search of their first win of the season. Unfortunately, under the bright, glowing full moon rising in the darkened sky southeast of the city, St. Joseph-Ogden pick up their third win of their 2019 campaign after defeating the Saints, 18-7.

"I think defensively we had so many kids playing well, we just never felt stressed."

~ SJO head coach Shawn Skinner

The Spartan win was notably delivered on yet another strong defensive performance. They have allowed just three touchdowns, one in each of their first contests, for a total of 23 points this year. At this point in the 2018 season, SJO had already given up 36 points.

"I think our kids are playing hard on defense. They are doing their job," Skinner said praising the unit's performance. "They are executing the defense the way its meant to be. When you do that, we can do some good things."

Sam Wesley and Brayden Weaver each had a team-high eight tackles. The pair along with Jaden Miller, Ethan Vanliew, and Max Chatterton were credited with tackles-for-losses. Vanliew, whose game has stepped up in the last 14 days, finished the game with seven tackles.

Thanks to the defensive stops, St. Joseph-Ogden held the Saints to just five first downs per half and scoreless until there was just little over two and half minutes left in game.

"I think defensively we had so many kids playing well, we just never felt stressed," Skinner said.

Hitting him hard enough to lift him off his feet, SJO's Payton Cain hits Central Catholic quarterback Jake Baughman hard to stop him in his tracks. Behind Cain, the rest of the stingy Spartan defense swarm into position to assist. View more game photos here . . . (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Even after Central Catholic finally put up a score with 2:38 left in the game, there was not a sense of panic from the Spartans.

"If you play hard, its amazing how many good things will happen," Skinner added.

Brayden Weaver, who would finish the night with 104 yards, drew first blood for SJO on a 10-yard run with less than two minutes left in the first quarter. The following two-point conversion attempt failed.

On the next possession, Jordan Kelly picked off a pass giving the Spartans the ball to finish out the frame. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, SJO turned over the ball on an intercepted pass.

Nine minutes of gridiron tug-of-war later, senior Brodie Sullivan recovered a fumble on the 41 yard line setting up an eventual touchdown by Keaton Nolan.

Nolan finished the night with a team-high 140 yards. Thirty-three of those yards came on kick-off return.

St. Joseph-Ogden's final touchdown came on a beautiful run by quarterback Crayton Burnett.

Unable to find an open receiver in the east end zone as he rolled toward the SJO sideline eight yards out, the junior tucked the ball under his arm and cut back toward the end zone hurdling one BCC player to avoid a tackle. He was met at the 3-yard line by three Saints bent on keeping him out of the end zone. On contact, he dropped his should and spun counter clockwise evading all three defenders. Burnett then had to dive over another Central Catholic player the last two yards into the end zone.

"We still haven't peaked yet. Not even close," Burnett said after the game. Happy about how the team played and pocketing the third win of the season, he doesn't believe the team has reached their full potential quite yet. "We have a lot to improve on."

The Spartans head into Week 4 in a two-way tie with Illinois Valley Central at the top of the Illini Prairie Conference. SJO takes on Unity (2-1) tomorrow at Hicks Field in a contest featuring the two best defensive units in the conference.