February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Spartans kick off season with 1-1 record

SJO 28-Pontiac 0

The Spartans dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage in defeating the Indians 28-0 in a game that seemed not as close as the final score indicated.

SJO wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as quarterback Evan Ingram hooked up with Brady Buss on a 48-yard touchdown pass.  The flea-flicker, which has worked in both instances that it has been used this season, gave the Spartans an 8-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.

Besides the offensive output by the Spartans, defense was the name of the game as a trio of sophomores stalled drives by Pontiac by getting in the backfield and recording sacks of Indians signal caller Wyatt Griffith.  Owen Birt, Bryson Helfrich, and Alex Funk each made critical plays that kept the momentum clearly in the hands of the Spartans.

Junior Keaton Nolan led SJO on the ground with 16 carries for 114 yards and three touchdown runs of three, seven and four yards.  Isaiah Moore also had a nice game running the ball, getting 13 touches for 67 yards.  Ingram carried one time for 17 yards, while Tyler Burch had three carries for 11 yards.  

Ingram completed 6-14 pass attempts for 103 yards, the bulk of those going to Buss, who had three catches for 78 yards.  Brock Innes had one catch for 15 yards while Nolan caught two passes for 10 yards.

Pontiac was led on offense by Kodi Davis, who had 15 carries for 59 yards.  Aaron Adcock ran the ball nine times for 27 yards and Griffith totaled -18 yards on his eight carries.

Alex Trevino led the Indians in receiving yards with two catches for 34 yards, while Davis had two grabs for 19 yards.  

With the win, the Spartans even their record at 1-1 while Pontiac falls to 0-2 with the loss.  SJO will be back on the road this coming Thursday evening when they travel to Charleston to battle Apollo Conference member Charleston Trojans.  In an agreement this season, the IPC and Apollo Conferences are merging forces to crossover one game this season, and the Trojans are the crossover opponent for the Spartans.  Game time in Charleston is set for 7:00 pm on April Fools’ Day.

With the uncertainty of the continuation of the season due to the pandemic that refuses to go away, the Spartans held Senior Night for its five senior players, the cheerleaders, statisticians, and marching band members. Senior football players are as follows:  Max Shonkwiler, Brock Innes, Brady Buss, Xander Rieches and Jackson Rydell.  

Senior cheerleaders are Makenzie Barron, Raegan Crippen, Shelby Kofoot, Alyssa Lynch, Alyssa Maddock, Abbey Moberg, Isabella Smith, and Michell Whitlock.  The senior stat girls are Issy Brooks and Tessa Smith. 

IVC 33-SJO 0

The St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans began their truncated 2021 spring football season this past Saturday with an afternoon matinee at Chillicothe to face Illini Prairie Conference foe Illinois Valley Central.  The Spartans finished the 2019 season 5-5 with a first-round playoff loss to Williamsville in the Class 3A playoffs.  

To say the Spartans are a young team would be a fair assessment, as they only have five seniors on the roster for this shortened campaign.  The Grey Ghosts, who finished 10-1 in 2019, made it to the final four in Class 4A and returned a lot of players from that team, led by running back Jack Merlo and wide receiver Kam Wollard, who is headed to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to play at the next level in the fall.

SJO scored first, as IVC was backed up deep in their own territory and punted to the Spartans, who returned the ball inside the IVC 30-yard line.  From there, SJO quarterback Evan Ingram found senior Brady Buss for a 28-yard touchdown pass and after Keaton Nolan scored on the two-point conversion, the Spartans had an early 8-0 lead.  

IVC tied the game seconds into the second quarter as Merlo scampered for 46 yards deep in SJO territory, and Grey Ghost signal caller Nolin Hulett took it in from 13 yards out and also hit Wollard with the conversion to make it an 8-8 game.  

IVC scored twice late in the first half as Hulett hit Wollard for 12 yards and Logan Mercer for 21 yards and the score was 21-8 at the half.

The Grey Ghosts extended their lead in the third quarter with another score and the back-breaking play was a 91-yard pass from Hulled to Brandon Ward, putting the game out of reach.

The Spartans recovered a fumble in the endzone for a safety and scored late in the game on a seven-yard run by Isaiah Moore to round out the scoring.  

For the game, Ingram was 9-23 passing for 151 yards and the score to Buss.  Nolan led the ground attack with 21 carries for 49 yards, while Moore had 8 touches for 52 yards.  Coby Miller had two carries for nine yards as well.  

On the receiving end, Buss caught three passes for 68 yards and the score, while Nolan had one catch for 10 yards.  Senior Brock Innes had two receptions for 28 yards and Jackson Rydell, who as a senior, is playing football for the first time in his career, had three catches for 45 yards.

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