BY KEN RYAN Contributor
October 14, 2011
When Hinsdale Central failed to make the playoffs last year for the first time in nine seasons, it took a long time for senior Ryan Callen to get over the pain.
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound lineman won’t have to worry about that feeling this season after the Red Devils beat Downers Grove North 23-13 Friday to clinch a playoff berth.
“It’s great,” Callen said. “Last year we had a rough ending to our season and couldn’t get into the playoffs and we couldn’t really prove ourselves as a team. So this year, one of our top priorities was making it to the playoffs. We guaranteed that tonight, so we’re really excited about that.”
Hinsdale Central (6-2), which improved to 3-2 in the West Suburban Conferene Silver Division, jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the second quarter and was pretty much in control throughout the contest.
The Red Devils also maintained possession of the Old Oaken Bucket, awarded to the winner of the longtime rivalry.
“This is huge,” first-year Hinsdale Central varsity coach Rich Tarka said. “Making the playoffs has been our goal all year. We had a little rocky start coming out of the blocks 2-2 and to go on a four-game streak like this is phenomenal for our kids. Everyone is aware of (missing the playoffs last season) and the seniors want to go out in style. They’ve been leading us all year. We know every week is going to be a challenge, we have to work hard to get it done, but we’ve been getting it done. We showed a lot of character today.”
Hinsdale Central controlled most of the play in the first half, but led just 13-7 at halftime.
Junior quarterback Brian Jones had a huge first half for the Red Devils, completing 13-of-19 passes for 185 yards and rushing for 34 yards on eight carries.
Jones opened the game’s scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:31 left in the second quarter and then tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Brad Anlauf (6 catches, 132 yards) that stretched the lead to 13-0 with 1:54 remaining after a botched extra-point attempt.
Downers North (2-6, 1-4 in Silver) used an impressive 11-play, 73-yard drive to pull within 13-7 at the half. Ryan Henry capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Riley McGinnis (9-of-21, 112 yards) with 14 seconds left before the break.
That was as close as the Trojans would get.
“It was pretty tough last year,” Callen said. “A lot of the things we wanted to do was for the seniors to get them off on a good note and get the team as far as we could. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. This year, it’s about the seniors again and we’re proving ourselves even more than last year. It’s been a good year so far.”
Alex Georgelos booted a 26-yard field goal to give Hinsdale Central a 16-7 advantage in the third quarter and the Red Devils extended the lead to 23-7 when Anlauf caught a 37-yard TD pass from Jones (18-for-28, 268 yards) two plays into the fourth quarter.
Anthony Rada, who rushed for 165 yards on 22 carries, scored on a 2-yard run with 7:38 remaining to trim Downers North’s lead to 23-13, but it wasn’t enough.
Ryan Kelleher had five receptions for 74 yards and Danny Callahan rushed for 50 yards on 14 carries to contribute to the strong offensive effort, but Brian Allen and Brett Goss each had a sack for the Red Devils.
“Our offense is starting to click and our defense has been playing yard all year,” Tarka said. “The pieces are starting to come into place.”
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