Cavaliers bring the heat at Southwestern, win fourth straight

Cavaliers bring the heat at Southwestern, win fourth

From left, Carlinville’s Dustin Roberts (31), Lonny Rosentreter (22) and Rayme Lewis (51) chase down Southwestern’s Gavin Day (5) during a run play in Piasa last Friday. Carlinville defeated Piasa Southwestern 41-12 to clinch a postseason berth. Enquirer Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.

Carlinville clinches 12th consecutive

postseason berth under Chad Easterday

By JACKSON WILSON

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

In the 100th season of Carlinville High School varsity football, the Cavaliers and their fans will have another November to remember.

CHS traveled to Piasa Oct. 18 and punched its 12th postseason ticket in as many seasons under head coach Chad Easterday with a 41-12 victory over Southwestern. The Cavies improved to 5-3 and stripped a young and upcoming Birds’ squad of any further playoff hopes on homecoming night. Southwestern, now 3-5, is eliminated from postseason contention.

“This was great for our kids because this was our goal,” praised Easterday. “We want to play a lot of games in the postseason and the start we had with our tough schedule contributed to how we can handle that type of adversity.”

“I think we’re doing a great job competing every week,” said Southwestern head coach Pat Keith. “We just need to keep climbing, working hard and doing the other little things necessary to get us where we want to be next year.”

Carlinville ended the game with 366 total yards of offense compared to Southwestern’s 160 and limited the Birds to just 26 yards in the second half.

Colton DeLong rushed for 200 yards on 18 carries and picked up a hat trick of three touchdowns for the Cavies, including one that came on an 81-yard rush that helped Carlinville strike first on the scoreboard with 10:40 remaining in the first half. Rosentreter buried the extra point.

Southwestern countered on a drive that was highlighted by a 27-yard Sam Wolff quarterback keeper from the midfield area to the Carlinville 17. Wolff completed a pass to Algenon Wilson to bring up first and goal at the 7, then Blake Funk put the finishing touches on a 62-yard scoring expedition with a touchdown rush up the gut. The Birds went for the lead and came up empty-handed on a two-point conversion. Carlinville retained a slim 7-6 advantage with 7:18 left on the second quarter clock.

The Cavies quickly re-kindled the fire courtesy of a spark from Joe Lewis. The junior broke loose on the opposing kickoff and took the football to the house on a 72-yard return. Lewis finished with 108 all-purpose yards on the day and also made a team-leading 12 tackles on defense.

“We got a great special team play there,” said Easterday. “The ball just happened to bounce in the right spot and everything went our way.”

Rosentreter booted his second extra point through the uprights and pushed the Carlinville lead to 14-8 just 12 seconds after Southwestern’s rally.

On third-and-11 from their own 40, the Birds were granted a first down thanks to a Carlinville defender roughing the passer. The Cavies still managed to force a turnover on downs at their 40, but the effort came with a price. Dylan Cunningham went down with an injury and was out for the remainder of the game.

The Cavies backed their fallen teammate by tacking another touchdown on to their lead before the half. Carlinville lost five yards on a penalty. DeLong cleaned up the mess with a 10-yard rush to the Cavalier 45. The senior captain then exploded for a major carry to the Southwestern 17 and drew a horse collar tackle to move the chains half the distance to the goal. The Cavies gave those 10 free yards back on a hold, but DeLong still found the end zone on the next play. DeLong’s 18-yard pursuit and Rosentreter’s extra point made it 21-6 with two-and-a-half minutes left until the break.

Southwestern started the next drive from its own 48 and was 21 yards away from getting a quick response before the halftime whistle, but a missed handoff led to a Carlinville fumble recovery by T.J. Sims.

Beginning at their own 35 out of the locker room – readjusted to the 40 after a Southwestern penalty, the Cavies got a first down when DeLong barracaded his way to the Southwestern 48. Two plays later, on third-and-4 from the Southwestern 42, Lewis struck again and scampered down the sideline all the way to the 11. DeLong carried the ball into the end zone on the next play and added to the Carlinville lead, 27-6, two-and-a-half minutes into the third. Rosentreter hooked the extra point wide to the left, but redeemed himself by booting the kickoff into the Southwestern end zone for a touchback.

The Birds kept possession of the football for the next four minutes, but couldn’t take advantage of a Cavalier late hit penalty that occured on third and long at the Southwestern 20. The Birds were forced to punt from the 34 after going three-and-out on a fresh set of downs.

Carlinville quarterback Michael Byots went to the air and hurled a pass from the Carlinville 37 down the field to Jahraven Johnson, who made a 44-yard catch. A penalty moved the chains down inside the 10. The Birds managed to force a fourth-and-goal, but were unable to stop Byots on a perfectly excuted roll-out. The Cavalier quarterback twirled a five-yard pass to a wide open Colton Robinson near the bottom right corner of the end zone. Rosentreter avenged his previous miss on the point after. Carlinville had a 34-6 lead with 3:11 remaining in the quarter.

On the Birds’ next possession, Ethan Trimm exposed a hole in the Southwestern line and tackled Gavin Day in the backfield for a five-yard loss. The Birds went on to lose 10 additional yards en route to a fourth-and-25 and had to punt the ball back to the Cavaliers at the Southwestern 44 with one minute remaining in the third.

The Cavies overcame another holding penalty and marched down the field for another touchdown – scored on a three-yard Robinson rush, to go up 41-6 four minutes into the fourth. Rosentreter ended his night on a high note and kicked his fifth successful extra point right down the middle.

Carlinville forced another three-and-out on the Birds’ next drive, but fumbled the ball back to Southwestern 35 yards from the end zone. Pauly Garrett took off for a 25-yard carry and later scored a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Day following a pair of penalties. Southwestern failed on the two-point conversion and finished 0-for-2 in that catagory.

Carlinville will end the regular season at Litchfield (0-8) with a chance to head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak and a 4-1 road record. Southwestern will have an opportunity to eliminate Roxana (4-4)  from postseason contention at home. Both games begin at 7 p.m.

“We are right where we want to be,” said Easterday. “We don’t want to look past anyone but I think we are going to be a very tough out.”

“For us, playoff time atmospheres are obviously a little bit more of ‘must win’ situations so we’ll learn from those,” said Keith. “That’s all we can do. Hopefully, at some point, we’re talking about us making the playoffs. For now, we just need to keep taking strides in the right direction this week and during the offseason.”