End of the road

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End of the road

Joe Sullivan, Sports Writer

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The H-F football team’s season ended last Saturday with a tough loss to the Lincoln-Way East Griffins in the IHSA state quarterfinals.

It was a battle on the line of scrimmage as both teams were scoreless through the first quarter. But the Griffins came out strong with a quick interception and a field goal to start the 2nd quarter.

With two minutes left in the first half, Michigan commit AJ Henning scored an 18 yard touchdown off a tipped pass by the H-F defense.

This put the Vikings at a 10-0 deficit going into halftime, but Head Coach Craig Buzea urged the guys to keep playing. 

“Defense is playing their butts off, and we aren’t helping them. One thing I know is that we aren’t winning this game with zero points,” Buzea said.

The Vikings came out and held the Griffins to a field goal on their first drive. Senior quarterback Dominick Jones gave the Vikings a spark with a 71 yard rushing touchdown to bring it to a one possession game.

However, the Griffins answered Jones’ touchdown with a 44 yard rushing touchdown by running back Jamal Johnson. The Griffins’ defense and special teams were ultimately too much for the Vikings as they fell 26-7.

The loss ended their season with a solid record of 10-2. Both losses of the season were at Lincoln Way East.

“Offensively, we had to take advantage of some things, and we didn’t. You’re not gonna beat a lot of teams with seven points, especially this team here,” Buzea said. “They’re the number one team in the state for a reason, and you gotta play perfect.”

Although the offense had a tough day moving the chains, they had a season for the record books. The Vikings averaged 32 points per game this year and got a lot of help from the run game. 

Junior running back Sean Allen had a historic season with a stellar 2,042 yards and 25 touchdowns. That gives him the all-time single season rushing record for the Vikings, passing Malik Norman’s previous record of 2,035 yards.

Even with his name in the record books, Allen is still looking to have an even better season next year. 

“The goals for next year is just to be better overall and to get better and work way harder this offseason and do what we gotta do to not be in this position next year,”Allen said. 

Allen got a lot of help from the offensive line in his breakthrough season. Out of the five starting offensive linemen, four of them are seniors. 

“I’m just gonna miss this group of guys that I’ve been around since the summer. I’m gonna miss coming everyday, working and just being with my brothers,” Oregon commit Marcus Harper said. 

The offense also got a lot of help from Dominick Jones and the passing game. Receivers like senior D’Jon Ramsey-Lucas and junior Will Pauling were regular targets throughout the season. 

Pauling received his first Division-I offer last June from the University of Cincinnati. The varsity receiver racked up 20 touchdowns this season.

Whether it was running, catching or even special teams, Pauling was a threat all over the field. 

“Week in, and week out we gave it all we had. The chemistry in the locker room was second to none,” Pauling said.

As for the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings were very consistent. Out of 12 games played this year, the Vikings allowed only seven first quarter points.

There were no holes in this defense, whether it was the secondary led by LaVoise McCoy and Kaysus Kurns, or the linebackers led by senior Xavier McKinney. 

Junior Linebacker Jaylen Olokun recorded the second most single season sacks in school history with eight. 

“Sure I made a bunch of key tackles, but my coaches and fellow linebackers, Xavier McKinney and Malyk Jones, put me in a good position to make a lot of plays this year,” Olokun said.

As for the senior class, their record stands at 29-6 throughout their varsity careers.

“You just don’t get a group like this. They’ve set the mark pretty high. Unfortunately, we had to run into these guys in the quarterfinals instead of the state championship because I do believe these are the two best teams in the state,” Buzea said.

The Vikings look forward to working hard this offseason and are anxious to bounce back for another postseason run.

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