As the year of 2019 comes to a close, I wanted to take a look back at another great season of local High School Football in our area. There were a LOT of compelling games to choose from in the NIC-10, Big Northern, and NUIC. Check it out and let me know what you think the best game was or what game should be on this list.
- Playoff Quarterfinal: Boylan 19-16 Sycamore
Under sloppy weather conditions, this one had a wild ending to save Boylan’s season. Even though the Titans offense struggled for most of the game, both teams played extremely hard and left everything they had on the field. Boylan finished the regular season with the top total offense and defense in their conference. This was a good football team and Boylan’s defense showcased that on Saturday as their defense was able to score not one but two defensive pick-six’s. They also put their offense in great position to secure the win by connecting on a game-winning field goal to move onto the next round!
2. Week 2 Big Northern: Stillman Valley 18-16 Byron
After a few down seasons, the Stillman Valley Cardinals went on the road to take down the defending conference champs in Byron. Prior to the game, the Tigers hadn’t lost in-conference for a few seasons. Talk about a Big Northern shake-up! This game went down to the wire, as Stillman Valley’s defense was able to shut the door late to secure the huge upset win, stunning the Byron Tiger crowd.
3. Week 1 NIC-10: Hononegah 33-30 Harlem
Harlem and Hononegah always play each other tough. This year, it was no different. Harlem came into this match-up as the new conference favorite with star QB James Cooper Jr. leading the way. This game had everything as both offenses kept trading scoring shots back and forth all the way until the end. It was a sloppy first game for both teams with multiple turnovers and a lot of penalties on both sides. Harlem struggled with offside issues all game long. After a bad snap late in the game, Hononegah was able to fall on the loose ball at Harlem’s 18 yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal for Hononegah as they went on to stun the Huskies.
4. Week 7 NIC-10: Auburn 26-22 Jefferson
Talk about a storybook ending! This one could’ve easily been the #1 game this season. With less than 2 minutes remaining, Jefferson continued to march down the field, pushing the ball to Auburn’s 1 yard line. The Knights stopped Jefferson for three consecutive plays. On fourth down, the J-Hawks punched it in to take a 22-20 lead with under a minute remaining. Auburn’s starting QB had to leave the game early due to an injury. With the Knights backup QB in the game, they had time for one final Hail Mary. All Jefferson had to do was make sure no Auburn receivers got past their secondary. Well, one Knights player slipped past and caught the huge 60-plus yard pass to win the game in the final seconds! Auburn won 26-22 in a thriller.
5. Week 6 NUIC: Forreston 38-36 West Carroll
When you think of Game of the Year-type games, you think of back-and-forth battles between two tops teams, fighting all the way to the end. That’s exactly what this game between Forreston and West Carroll was. Both teams scored on their opening drives then Forreston jumped out to an early 24-14 lead. West Carroll stormed right back to make it a 28-24 game. This continued as the game progressed with both offenses trading scoring shots back and forth until Forreston was able to come out on top scoring on the final possession of the game 38-36.
6. Week 7 NIC-10: Harlem 15-9 Belvidere North
This was the battle of the #1 conference-ranked defense vs the #1 conference-ranked offense. It was a defensive battle for the majority of the contest. The Blue Thunder’s were all over Harlem’s backfield all game long. Belvidere North easily dominated the game for about 3 ½ quarters, until Harlem was able to score the late go-ahead touchdown to win the game for the Huskies. It was a thrilling ending to our Week 7 Game of the Week on SportsFan!
7. State Championship Game: Williamsville 46-42 Byron
Byron may not have come away with the State Championship, but you have to admit, this was one heck of a football game – all the way to the final second. The Tigers were leading late. Williamsville was able to force a punt, which gave their team one last opportunity to march down the field and to take the lead. Unfortunately for Byron, that was exactly what happened, as Williamsville was able to capture the State Title.
8. Week 6 NIC-10: Belvidere North 28-14 Hononegah
This was a huge game, as both teams were looking to stay in contention for the conference title, and keep pace with Boylan. Hononegah dominated the all-time head-to-head series coming in (11-1). North’s only victory was way back in 2013. The Indians were playing with a lot of confidence heading into this match-up. North had other plans, as their defense stepped up like it did all season long. The Blue Thunder put the rest of the NIC-10 conference on notice after shutting down Hononegah’s high-powered offense, making North a true contender in the NIC-10.
9. Week 8 NUIC: Du-Pec 16-8 West Carroll
This game may not have had a last-second game-winning touchdown or a thrilling goal-line stand. Instead, it was a milestone win for Du-Pec’s football program. After years spent towards the bottom in the NUIC standings, Du-Pec broke out this year. They surprised a lot of teams along the way. With that win over West Carroll, it solidified all the hard work Du-Pec put into this program as they finally clinched their first playoff appearance since 2009!
10. Week 9 Big Northern: Stillman Valley 18-7 Genoa-Kingston
This was a huge game for the Big Northern conference with a potential 3-way tie on the line for the Conference title. All Genoa-Kingston had to do was win and they would control the Big Northern conference. But after beating the defending champs (Byron) early in the season, Stillman Valley wanted to make sure they got (at least) a share of the 2019 conference title. That’s exactly what the Cardinals did, as they went on the road and held GK to just 1 touchdown! It was a defensive battle for conference supremacy in the Big Northern area.
Just Missed: East 26-24 Guilford, Aquin 36-30 Forreston, Boylan 13-7 North, Jefferson 36-34 East, Forreston 22-20 EPC.