By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Rockford Jefferson came out strong looking for their first win of the season Friday night, Sept. 7, as they faced Rockford Auburn in a NIC-10 matchup.
But after the Knights (2-1) fell behind 14-0, they used their fast-break offense and a cat-quick defense to storm back and top the J-Hawks 26-14.
“We just had to pick up the pace,” senior linebacker Edward Robinson said. “They came out very strong, but we were in condition and that is thanks to the offseason. We tired them out and did what we had to do to get the ‘W.’”
On the surface, it appeared that Jefferson (0-3) was controlling much of the first half. Running back Garret Perry ran for 90 of his 100 yards in the first half, and a 27-yard touchdown run by Jake Reisinger gave Jefferson the two-touchdown lead.
But Auburn was moving the ball, matching the J-Hawks yard for yard. Unfortunately for the Knights, untimely penalties and turnovers prevented them from putting points on the board.
Auburn did get points following a Jefferson turnover, as quarterback Marc Trautmann ran in from 1 yard out, but the Knights felt like they may have left points on the board as they went to halftime.
“I think they wore down a little bit,” Auburn Head Coach Dan Appino said of Jefferson. “The first half, we played well. We just didn’t finish. We shot ourselves in the foot with fumbles and penalties. But if we finish in the first half, maybe we come away with more points.”
The touchdown was the first of three on the night for Trautmann. The junior quarterback ran for 65 yards in addition to completing 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards.
“He’s learning a brand-new offense in about a month and a half,” Appino said of his emerging quarterback. “It’s something that at Boylan, those kids have had two or three years running that stuff. He’s starting to get it, and he did a good job of executing tonight. They’re young, and the nuances are going to take some time.”
Fellow junior Quon Herron added a 45-yard touchdown run, part of his 99 rushing yards. Herron also had 43 yards receiving on four catches.
Herron and Trautmann, along with seniors Devone Manns and Corey Jefferson, help form a dynamic offense for the Knights early this season. Appino said the effort of all the players has helped speed up the learning curve in his first season with the Knights.
“We have a great core of kids,” he said. “These kids have jumped on everything we’ve thrown at them, and that core of kids are carrying us right now and allowing us to have some success out there. It’s a cliche, but we really do have to try and play each week to get better.”
For Auburn, the big challenge right now is how to handle success. After a long losing streak, they are trying to keep things in focus after a few wins with tough games against Machesney Park Harlem, Rockton Hononegah and Rockford Boylan Catholic still on the schedule.
“We can’t let this get to us,” Auburn’s Robinson said of the early success. “We have to remain humble. Unfazed is our quote here, it’s our motto. We have to just get ready for Hononegah Friday.”
Around the NIC-10:
• Freeport (3-0) trailed Rockford East (0-3) late in the second quarter, but the Pretzels, behind Steve McShane, rolled off the final 27 points in a 47-21 win over the E-Rabs. McShane, an early contender for Conference Player of the Year, racked up another 252 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns as Freeport prepares to play fellow undefeated Rockford Boylan Friday, Sept. 14.
• Boylan (3-0) did their part to set up the first-place matchup with Freeport, pitching a shutout against Rockford Guilford (1-2) in a 32-0 victory. DeMarcus Vines paced things for the Titans’ offense, with runs that included a 45-yard touchdown.
• Harlem (2-1) bounced back from their tough loss to Boylan the previous week, in a tougher-than-expected game with Belvidere North (0-3). The Blue Thunder were tied with the Huskies late in the third before Harlem ran away for the 49-27 win. Kevin Witcik ran for 166 yards and Justin Vanwambeke threw for 227 yards for the Huskies. Justin Powers led the way for Belvidere North with 214 rushing yards.
• The Hononegah Indians (2-1) continue to make great strides, getting five touchdowns of 40 yards or more while cruising to a 55-14 win over Belvidere (2-1). Alex Martin ran for 117 yards, caught two passes for 53 yards, threw for 25 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the way for Hononegah.
From the Sept. 12-18, 2012, issue