NEWS

Luke Skokna's star shines brightest in Hinsdale Central's first-round win

By BOB NARANG - editorial@mysuburbanlife.com
10/29/2017

Stars were aplenty during Saturday’s playoff showdown between Stevenson and Hinsdale Central.

Stevenson running back Jean-Marc Etienne rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown. Hinsdale Central linebacker Aidan Cruickshank recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown and snared a pivotal interception in the red zone to end a Patriots’ threat. Teammate Garrett Oakley had some late punishing runs to extend drives to finish with 95 yards.

But on a cold late afternoon when blue, gold and silver-colored stars of confetti were covering most of Hinsdale Central’s 10-year-old FieldTurf, Luke Skokna shined the brightest.

The Hinsdale Central junior running back overcame two nagging injuries to run for 148 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Red Devils to a 33-21 win in a Class 8A first-round victory in Hinsdale.

“Luke is a special player and got a little tweaked on the first play of the game, but he battled through it and played hard throughout the whole game,” Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman said.

Skokna, though, is accustomed to doing special things at special times. In wrestling, he reached the Class 3A sectional in the 160-pound weight class in February.

Skokna competed in Hinsdale Central’s 800-meter relay team that made the Class 3A state preliminaries in late May. After rushing for 77 yards in the first two games this season, Skokna’s become a focal figure in the Red Devils’ run to the second round.

Skokna’s hard running led to TD runs of 20 and 32 yards against the Patriots to help the Red Devils advance to the second round for the first time in three years. Hinsdale Central (8-2) battles state powerhouse Loyola (9-1) next Saturday at 1 p.m.

“The offensive line kept up opening up the holes,” Skokna said. “We planned all week that we had to establish the run. I had a couple of stingers. It was nothing serious. I knew I had to keep coming back in to secure the win for my team.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Skokna blasted through holes to keep Stevenson’s prolific offense off the field. He broke through the middle, cut to the right and outran two Stevenson defenders on his 32-yarder with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I knew after that it was the separation of the game,” he said. “I just turned on the burners. I was pretty satisfying how the team played offensively, defensively and special teams.”

Skokna and his teammates face their second recent state champion next week. Loyola (9-1) defeated New Trier 35-32 to set up a clash between two programs known for producing college players.

"This (win) is the next step for our program, a great step for our program and we now move onto next week," Hartman said. "For us, we're playing a great program. We beat a former state champion today, and get to go against another one next week. If you want to play (at state), you have to beat some good teams, so early and often, here we go."

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