The Big Foot Wolves celebrate after winning the Northern Illinois Football Conference title last Oct. 28 by shutting out Harvard, Ill., in large part because of the defense stepping up as its done all season. The win also marked the Wolves going undefeated on the season for the first time in 19 years.

By Heather Ruenz

SLN staff

For the first time in 19 years of Big Foot Wolves youth football, the team went undefeated on the season and claimed the Northern Illinois Football Conference title Oct. 28 by defeating Harvard, 25-0.

They say offense sells tickets but defense wins championships and the Wolves defense proved that point in the playoffs, not yielding one point to their opponents in the two games they played.

The championship game started out slow and the Wolves were hampered by penalties and missed assignments, according to head coach Dave Freymiller.

“We seemed nervous and a little off our game but or defense was solid. After one quarter the score was tied 0-0,” he said.

In the second quarter, he said, the team was forced to open up the playbook after tailback Jax Hertel went down with a wrist injury. That change of plans led to Basil Demco scrambling on a third down play and connecting with Augustus Foster on the sideline, which he tiptoed down for a 30-yard score.

After Big Foot’s defense forced another three and out the Wolves run game came to life as Demco went for 50 yards on a power sweep for the second score of the game, increasing their lead to 12-0.

Harvard was able to mount a drive before the half with a solid kickoff return and went to a hurry-up offense – putting the Wolves on their heels, according to Freymiller.

But Big Foot’s defense stepped up when it counted.

“It came down to 4th and goal when Foster caused a fumble and we recovered it, denying Harvard of a score before the half,” he said.

The Wolves defense dominated the third quarter, according to Freymiller, with the defensive line playing their most physical game of the season.

“Bryce Harvey, Gabe Wilkins and Nick Minor really took charge of the game. Austin Cocroft also had one of the best interceptions we’ve seen this season to end a Harvard drive,” he said.

The Wolves had put in a new offensive package just for the championship game against Harvard and it paid off, particularly in the second half.

Demco found Tyler Wilson for a 40-yard strike to give the Wolves a three-score lead, Freymiller said, but the duo wasn’t done. Big Foot closed out the scoring when Demco connected with Wilson on a short pass, which Wilson took 35 yards to the end zone.

Freymiller said while it was enjoyable to see this year’s team find success, there is another facet to the pride he and the other coaches witnessed.

“It was even better to see them become close to each other and grow as young adults. They felt the pressure of the expectations set on them and banded together as teammates,” he said. “They will remember this the rest of their lives.”

 
 

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