By Missy Chappell
“It was a damn good high school football game,” said Head Coach Andy Romine after last Friday night’s victory in Decatur over the Bulldogs of St. Teresa.
If you were in attendance, you already know that nothing else needs to be said. It’s not important that the win was Tuscola’s first on St Teresa’s field since the late 1970’s. It also does not matter that St. Teresa stand-out Jacardia Wright still managed to rack up 234 rushing yards in the game. Last Friday night was a good high school football game and at the end the Tuscola Warriors stood victorious 24-21 and remained the only undefeated team in the Central Illinois Conference this season.
In a game featuring Division I recruits on offense for both teams, the first quarter wasn’t impressive offensively for either. St. Teresa was held to a three and out on the first drive of the game, as was Tuscola on their first drive. When the Bulldogs got the ball again, they started moving down the field on nine straight carries by Jacardia Wright before two penalty plays sent them back to a second and 25 from Tuscola’s 49-yard line, where a fumble on the hand off was recovered by Kevin Miller.
Starting on St. Teresa’s side of the 50, the Warriors used their big three offensive weapons, Noah Pierce, Luke Sluder, and Dalton Hoel to set themselves up third and 5 from the 30-yard line. It was there that Sluder connected with Hoel for his first of two perfectly thrown passes over the middle to Hoel that resulted in touchdowns.
After the game Hoel talked about those two touchdown passes.
“We saw that they were playing a little far off, and we saw an opening on the inside. We saw something in their safety, and we influenced him with a play action that kind of sent him the other direction. Coach Romine believed in Luke and I, and Luke made two incredible throws, like you said ‘right on the money’ throws.”
Coach Romine’s assessment was pretty much identical, “The ball didn’t have any hang, and he didn’t have to slow his feet down. You know Hoel can run with that kid (Wright), but if his feet have to slow down, he’s going to catch the ball and get caught or if he has to slow too much, the ball may get batted down. That’s the best (Sluder) has thrown the ball over the middle yet: on-time, didn’t have a lot of air, didn’t hang up. He threw two of those balls to Dalton, and I’m really proud of him.”
The full story can be found in the Oct. 11, 2017, edition of The Tuscola Journal.