Goss: Plainfield East defense turns up the heat
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org October 12, 2013 6:50PM
Plainfield East’s Daniel Jackson sacks Romeoville quarterback Kelvin Jones during Friday’s game. | Raymundo Luna/For Sun-Times Media
The Plainfield East coaching staff had inside information heading into Friday night’s Southwest Prairie battle with Romeoville.
Spartans receiver Chuck Hunter, who has put up impressive numbers, “was in our camp all summer, and then he transferred to Romeoville,” East coach Mike Romeli said.
“We know what he does, and we read the paper. We know they like to get him the ball. We knew if we took him out, we would be OK. So we bracketed him.”
That mission accomplished, the Bengals turned their attention to Romeoville’s running game, which at times has been strong. But after East jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, the Bengals’ defense had some fun en route to the 21-6 Homecoming victory, the biggest win in the school’s young history.
Standout defensive end Daniel Jackson said any time the offense wants to provide an early three-touchdown lead, he will take it.
“Our offense took off,” he said. “It does make it easier when we have a big lead to break down the other team’s offense.
“The key was that we did not bite on trick plays and passes. We played with discipline. But with a big lead, you get to take a lot more chances, like more blitzes that you usually don’t use.”
The work of Jackson, Donald Manning, Awais Arain and William Moore up front, along with linebackers Jovany Urbietta, Cullen Rompa, Antonio Jameson and Michael McGee, had Romeoville quarterback Kelvin Jones under pressure throughout the game.
“Our linebackers played wonderful,” Jackson said.
Jones came in with nearly 1,000 yards passing but was limited to 23.
“They wanted to run it down our throats, but our linebackers and defensive line were great,” said East safety Omar Salazar, who toiled in the secondary at various times with Juleyan Givens, Turon Hill, Jordan Dobyne, Donte Hartsfield and Wynston Wright. “They were so good that I didn’t have to do much.”
“They had fast guys up front and put a lot of guys in the box, and we weren’t picking up what they were doing,” Romeoville coach Jeff Kuna said.
Romeli said the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Jackson, a junior, will play in the Big Ten some day, and so might the 6-1, 210-pound sophomore, Manning. Jones probably is seeing No. 71 (Jackson) and No. 79 (Manning) collapse on him in his sleep.
“This was definitely one of my better games,” Manning said. “All the hard work in the offseason is paying off.”
“Donald fits perfectly in our defense,” Jackson said of Manning. “With more work, he will be a D-I player. We complement each other real well.”
As for the first-ever trip to the playoffs, East (5-2, 3-2) can taste it. The Bengals probably need six victories, and they say there is no chance of overconfidence when they visit winless Plainfield Central on Friday.
“We won’t take Central lightly,” Jackson promised. “I’m happy now that we won our Homecoming game. There’s no way to explain how I feel about this team.”
“Reaching our goal is starting to become reality,” Salazar said. “It’s very exciting.”