By: Luke Drase
AJ Henning has just announced himself to the state of Illinois.
The Sophomore wide receiver has a monster day, catching two touchdown passes, including a 92 yard haul, to lead the number three ranked Lincoln-Way East Griffins over number one (According to the Chicago Sun Times) and defending 8A champions, Maine South, 28-26.
“I just have to thank my line for blocking well,” said Henning about his 92 yard touchdown grab.
“I got out on my route well, my QB Brendan [Morrissey] threw a great ball and I got under it and showed off that speed and got it in the end-zone.”
The much anticipated game drew a packed house which included the likes of Northwestern head coach, Pat Fitzgerald.
Lincoln-Way East got on the board first on their first possession off a 14 yard touchdown run by Ryan Scianna.
After going three-and-out on their first possession, Maine South answered right back with a 31 yard touchdown pass from John O’Sullivan to Cam Stacy to pull within one after a missed extra point.
On the first possession out of half-time, Lincoln-Way East quarterback Brendan Morrissey scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown to extend their lead to 28-13, seemingly taking all the momentum, but Maine South bounced right back.
O’Sullivan connected with Rory Hays for a 61 yard touchdown pass on the very next play from scrimmage. O’Sullivan later found Stacy on a 13 yard score for their third touchdown connection of the game to cut the deficit to just two points.
Maine South head coach Dave Inserra said: “He [O’Sullivan] and Cam had a great connection and Rory obviously helps us out, and them playing on both sides of the ball they’re pretty special players.”
The Hawks managed to get the ball back on their own 41 yard line with 2:38 left in the game. But the Griffins defense stood tall and intercepted O’Sullivan to regain possession and ran down the clock to close out the game.
“I’m just so happy for the players,” said Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar.
“They’ve invested an awful lot into this, especially since last January. To come up here and have it be such a team victory, whether the O was down, the D was down, special teams. Everyone seemed to come together, make plays and lift the other units up. You really could feel that it was a total team victory.”
Despite the playoff-esq atmosphere, both coaches understood that it was only week two, and their respective teams cannot get too high, or low on the result. Especially Maine South who still have two grueling non-conference games remaining.
“We got two more. We have Fremd and we have Palatine after that. Great playoff teams, great programs, so we have to come ready to play next week,” said Inserra.
“We can be down for the night, put it behind us and tomorrow, let’s start preparing for Fremd because they’re going to bring it. So, we have got to be prepared and get back to winning ways.”
With both teams are expected to comfortably qualify for the 8A state playoffs, it is not inconceivable that we could see a rematch between the two in late November for a state title.