ELGIN – A week ago, the inability to finish drives left the Huntley football team frustrated – even in victory.
If the season was going to amount to anything, the Red Raiders realized, they couldn’t afford not to turn offensive productivity into points.
That wasn’t an issue on Saturday when Jake Scalise and Mitch Kawell each ran for two touchdowns and quarterback Blake Jacobs threw for two more in a 48-16 rout of Elgin at Memorial Stadium.
The offensive awakening couldn’t have come at a better time for Huntley (2-0), which opens Fox Valley Conference play Friday at home against defending Valley Division champion Cary-Grove. But despite all of Saturday’s big-play production, Red Raiders coach John Hart made one thing perfectly clear: There’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“We’re going to have to play better than this to beat a team like Cary-Grove – there’s just no doubt about it,” Hart said. “You’ve got to be able to learn to be able to play four quarters and then be able to be finish drives. We had big plays finish drives – we don’t know if we really finished drives.”
Huntley broke the game open in the second quarter with 28 unanswered points. Scalise delivered the first big play with a 78-yard touchdown run that started to create distance between the Red Raiders and Elgin.
Kawell, who gave Huntley the lead for good with a two-yard run in the first quarter, rumbled 22 yards in the second before fullback Jacob Witt broke free from 15 yards out to push the lead to 34-13. After Mike Andrews’ interception gave the Red Raiders possession again late in the half, Jacobs – who threw the first of his two touchdowns on Huntley’s first possession, connected with Brandon Altergott just before the end of the half to cap the productive quarter.
Scalise, who led Huntley’s ground attack with 133 yards, punched in his second touchdown run early in the third quarter before Hart turned to his reserves the rest of the way. The performance, Scalise said, was a vast improvement from a week before.
“Offensively, we really need to fix some cracks we had last week,” Scalise said. “We definitely left a lot of points on the field (against Bartlett) and we made some mistakes that we needed to clean up.
“We fixed those mistakes and made sure we didn’t make them again this week.”
Despite scoring on its first two possessions, Huntley had to battle early after Elgin’s Jaylen Clemons gave the Maroons an 8-6 lead with a 95-yard kickoff return. From there, the Red Raiders settled in, pouring on the offense while the defense kept Elgin scoreless for much of the day.
The Maroons connected on a late Ryan Sitter touchdown pass to Dontrell Gaddy with 36 seconds remaining after the game clock didn’t stop running for much of the second half.
Now, with C-G looming, the Red Raiders feel like they’ve got things running smoothly although Jacobs admits he and his teammates can’t be satisfied. But Saturday’s offensive showcase certainly didn’t hurt.
“It gives us a lot of confidence but we know [C-G] will be a really hard game, but I think we can beat them,” Jacobs said. “We’re not as disciplined as we need to be, but other than that, we’re doing pretty good.”