Tim Thornton knows there is something special brewing with the Peoria Woodruff football program.
He simply won’t get to see it unfold.
The Warriors start 11 underclassmen on offense, but a decision by the Peoria School Board last Monday means they likely won’t play together as seniors — at least not for Woodruff. The District 150 voted to close Woodruff at the end of the school year, meaning this will be the last season for the Warriors.
“I would have loved to have been able to see this team next year,” said Thornton, in his sixth season as Woodruff’s coach.
It was the first blow the Warriors took in an emotional week.
Friday, the Illinois High School Association ruled the Warriors had to forfeit a season-opening victory against East Peoria because they used an ineligble player. Tyshawn Burch, who rushed for 315 yards and five TDs in that game, was suspended for violating the school’s athletic code.
The incident happened before the season began but did not come to light until after the Warriors played. The IHSA said he should have been ineligible for Week 1, thus the reason for the forfeit.
Friday night, things didn’t get much better with a 37-6 loss to Quincy Notre Dame.
“There have been a lot of distractions,” Thornton said. “Even with all of that happening, you still need to come out and execute. … We didn’t execute at all.
“We had some minds that were in different places. That’s going to happen in life. It happens to adults every day. These guys, they’ll learn how to battle through that. Some of them did. We had a handful of guys play, play, play really hard.”
Playing the mental game
QND coach Bill Connell wanted to make sure the Raiders didn’t take the Mid-State Six Conference game for granted, so he talked about South Carolina’s 16-10 upset of No. 4 Ole Miss on Thursday night.
“You’ve got to make sure as a coach that you lay examples out there so your team knows tonight is not the night, we’re not having a letdown tonight,” Connell said. “We’re playing football.
“I think football is a very emotional game, and tonight, we laid the emotions out there on the field.”
Hit of the Year nominee
Another week, another flattened Peoria ballcarrier.
This time, QND defensive tackle Connor Miller put Woodruff’s Khyree Jones in the crosshairs and flat-backed the Warriors receiver on a toss sweep in the first quarter.
The play was negated by an illegal use of hands penalty on Woodruff, but Miller’s hit will certainly be one to remember.
End of a streak
QND linebacker Cody Boots sighed when asked about allowing a touchdown for the first time since the season opener.
“It was a tough one,” Boots said.
A pass interference penalty on a second-and-10 pass deep down the left sideline helped Woodruff sustain its lone scoring drive, which ended with a 2-yard pass from Adam Gutierrez to Deontray Dorsey.
It ended a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless quarters, but it didn’t diminish how well the QND defense played once again.
“Very happy with the team’s performance,” Boots said.
The key this time was a formation switch in which the Raiders used an extra defensive back to defend the Warriors’ five-receiver attack.
“The coaches did a good job putting that together,” Boots said.
QND 37, Peoria Woodruff 6
7 First downs 20
19-37 Rushes-yards 36-148
108 Passing yards 145
145 Total yards 293
18-31-1 Comp-Att-Int 16-20-0
6-57 Penalties-yards 4-40
1-1 Fumbles-lost 1-0
Woodruff 0 0 0 6—6
QND 14 10 13 0—37
Q—Daniel Weiman 1 run (Blake Doane kick), 8:00
Q—Ryan Terstriep 1 run (Doane kick), :09
Q—Doane 32 FG, 9:25
Q—Weiman 15 run (Doane kick), 2:30
Q—Weiman 10 run (kick blocked), 7:02
Q—Adam Niemann 9 pass from Luke Stamerjohn (Doane kick), 3:49
PW—Deontray Dorsey 2 pass from Adam Gutierrez (kick failed), 5:57
RUSHING—Woodruff, Dorsey 4-19, Gutierrez 14-18, Cursante Jones 1-0. QND, Weiman 16-74, Kramer Barnes 2-32, Ian Hinkamper 3-27, Stamerjohn 4-22, Zak Thompson 3-6, Cody Kessler 2-4, Aaron Reiter 3-1, Terstriep 1-1, Evan Roush 1-(minus 14).
PASSING—Woodruff, Gutierrez 18-31-108-1. QND, Barnes 7-7-67-0, Stamerjohn 9-13-78-0.
RECEIVING—Woodruff, Dorsey 9-52, Aaron Price 3-36, Ty Amos 3-5, Khyree Jones 2-5, Jawaun Davis 1-10. QND, Anthony Bruns 5-50, Weiam 2-30, Mark Grawe 2-21, Brandon Ley 2-14, Stamerjohn 2-10, Doane 1-9, Niemann 1-9.