Monday, November 20, 2006

When the Linchpin Stays Home...

Anna-Jonesboro Defeated in Semifinal Round

by scott mees, the southern
ST. JOSEPH - The Class 3A prep football semifinal between Anna-Jonesboro and St. Joseph-Odgen was strange to say the least.The contest featured a blocked extra point, a missed extra point and one of the most bizarre touchdown receptions of the postseason.

The Spartans held on to nip the Wildcats 22-21 and advance to the state championship game."When you get into a game like this it's gonna be big plays that change the outcome of the game," said Anna-Jonesboro coach Brett Detering. "What makes it harder than anything is we made some mistakes and turned the ball over at times. In these big games you just can't do that and give the other team that many chances."

Trailing 7-0 late in the second quarter, Spartan quarterback Isaiah Olson threw a pass to Lukas Graves, but the Wildcats' Jake Pecord stepped in front of the receiver and looked as though he'd intercept the pass.But it slipped through his hands, and Graves trapped it against Pecord's back and took off for a 70-yard touchdown reception."We got a break on our first touchdown," said St. Joseph-Ogden coach Dick Duval regarding the long touchdown reception. "It's better to be lucky than good, and we happened to be lucky today."

The extra point try sailed wide left, and A-J kept a 7-6 lead at the intermission.

The Wildcats' Brock Bittle fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half after a hard hit, but A-J shut the door on defense. The Spartans' Nick Krisman missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.Later in the third quarter, Steven Houseman forced a Mark Gones fumble, and Dave Sanders fell on the football to give A-J possession at the Spartan 45.But Krisman picked off a Cerney pace and ran to the A-J 35. Several plays later, J.C. Ducey caught a 2-yard touchdown pass to give St. Joseph-Ogden a 12-7 lead.On the first play of the next drive, Cerney found Hileman who broke a tackle and outran everyone to the end zone for a 69-yard scoring play. Anna-Jonesboro took a 15-12 edge."It seemed like every time they would score and get up Hileman would come back with a big play and make something happen," Detering said. "The combination of Brad throwing the ball and Lucas catching has been a great combination for us since the playoffs started."

The Spartans added a field goal to tie the score at the end of three quarters. Gones broke through the middle of the A-J defense for a 48-yard fourth quarter jaunt that set up the go-ahead score.Once again, the Wildcats answered on their first play of a drive following a St. Joseph-Ogden touchdown.Cerney fired a pass over the middle to Hileman who broke to the outside, and he was gone for a 68-yard scoring reception. The Spartans blocked the extra point attempt that ended up sealing the victory.

"They were a lot bigger than us and it's not a great field out there," Detering said. "They had some big guys get a big push on one side and got the extra point blocked."Hileman's runs after the catch were outstanding, and the junior finished with four receptions (three were touchdowns) for 200 yards. Cerney passed for 286 yards but was intercepted three times.Gones carried the ball 35 times for 176 yards in the Spartan backfield.

Although Anna-Jonesboro's great season is over, Detering spoke about how special his seniors were this year. This game marked the last time linebackers Heston Hase and Sanders would wear the Wildcat uniform."I think our seniors overachieved a lot of people's expectations," Detering said. "They've always had a belief that they could play with anyone because they play with such great heart and such great determination."What I'm going to remember about these guys is they enjoyed the fight."

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