Nazareth players celebrate winning the fourth football championship in the school's history on Nov. 26 in Champaign. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Nazareth players celebrate winning the fourth football championship in the school's history on Nov. 26 in Champaign. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Football Class 5A State Championship: Roadrunners win shootout for fourth state title

Spread the love

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Nazareth opened the season in August with a 2-0 win over Kankakee.

It closed the season the afternoon of Nov. 26 with a 45-44 win over Peoria at Memorial Stadium in Champaign to take the IHSA Class 5A state championship.

In between was a rollercoaster of wins and losses and a scramble just to make the playoffs.

“This was appropriate for these guys — nothing came easy,” Nazareth coach Tim Racki said after the one-point victory. “If it wasn’t for that [win over Kankakee] with the safety, we wouldn’t be here right now. I was out of my mind after this game because it was an incredible game.”

To win their fourth state title, the Roadrunners (10-4) competed in a game in which the teams combined for 89 points, 140 plays and 846 yards. Nazareth had to deal with Peoria monster running back Malachi Washington, who carried the ball 48 times for 275 yards and six touchdowns.

After Washington’s final score with 5:15 left in the game to pull the Lions (12-2) to within 45-44, he was met by Roadrunners sophomore Gabe Kaminski, senior Braden Ferguson and senior Finn O’Meara inches away from the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt. That turned out to be huge.

“I followed out defensive coordinator [Keith Lukes’] plan, Kaminski said. “He’s an incredible coach and we just followed through on his plan.”

NAZ CONVERSION TACKLE scaled e1669577589161

Nazareth’s Finn O’Meara (left), Gabe Kaminski (center) and Braden Ferguson (right) stop Peoria running back Malachi Washington just short of the goal line on a key two-point conversion attempt during the Class 5A state championship game on Nov. 26. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Peoria had one more possession to try to take the lead, but it was dashed with 59 seconds left on a Zach Hayes interception.

“I made a break on the ball, I secured it and the feelings that just rushed through my head…I mean…I can’t believe it,” Hayes said after the game. “I’m still in shock. This is all I have ever wanted. And to make the interception to secure it is surreal.”

Justin Taylor led the Roadrunners with 108 yards on 17 carried and a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Logan Malachuk threw for 245 yards and touchdown passes to Hayes and Edward McClain, Jr. and ran for two more scores. James Penley had four catches for 102 yards.

Brendan Flanagan added the final touchdown with 6:19 left in the game and Malachuk found Penley for what turned out to be the game-winning two-point conversion.

Peoria came into the game averaging 50 points per game with six games of 62 points or more. That included a 76-56 victory over Morris in the semifinals on Nov. 19.

Nazareth opened the season 2-4 – with losses to Lemont, Marist, Notre Dame, Carmel and St. Rita — and needed to run the table to get to the playoffs. The Roadrunners beat Leo, Montini and Benet to qualify for the postseason.

Once in the playoffs, Nazareth rolled over Glenbard South (48-22), Rockford Boylan (38-13) and Morgan Park (29-0) before surviving a tight 10-7 victory over Sycamore to get to Champaign.

NAZ QB CONVERSION scaled

Nazareth sophomore quarterback Logan Malachuk throws for what turned out to be the game-winning two-point conversion in a 45-44 state championship win over Peoria. Photo by Jeff Vorva

“When we were 2-4, it was kind of quiet in the office and one of my assistants mentioned something about playoffs and I gave the best Jim Mora imitation. I just busted out laughing saying ‘Playoffs?!!?’ Everybody kind of got a kick out of it,” Racki said.

“We were just wondering how we were going to get into the playoffs. Let’s just work on win No. 3 first.”

The Roadrunner roster features just 13 seniors, and many underclassmen had their hands in this state championship. But there were growing pains early.

“Overall, we are a young team and it’s hard for kids and college players and even NFL players to go through a losing streak like that,” Racki said. “It’s difficult to maintain your confidence, faith, hope and keeping everything together. I was consistent with pointing out what we were doing well. I didn’t beat them up. They felt bad enough losing.

“Sure enough, once we started growing each day and we got that third win and fourth and fifth, you could see the confidence and the improvement in our play and our execution, and it just took off.”

Racki never imagined early on this team would bring home a championship, but felt pretty good after beating Sycamore in the semifinals.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I was kind of in shock. It was a joy to see the kids after all of the adversity that they went through to be rewarded to a trip to Champaign.”

And a state title.

FAND AND BAND MEMBERS scaled

Nazareth players celebrate their Class 5A football title with fans and members of the band on Nov. 26. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Local News

Alyssa Blomberg of the group Ramzi and the Loafers, sings during a performance last year at Orland Park’s inaugural SummerFest. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Comings & Goings: Orland Park Summerfest returns this weekend

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Back for a second go round this weekend is the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce’s Summerfest. The event combines a carnival, live music, an array of dining options and a car show, at the 153rd Street Metra Station location in Orland Park and will run from Friday, June 14,…

dvn 6-13-24 township repair cafe for 6-15

Repair Cafe this Saturday at Township of Lyons HQ

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch Repair cafes have become quite the thing for the Township of Lyons. So much so that another repair cafe will be offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, June 15, at the township office, 6404 Joliet Road in Countryside. A repair café held in May was a smashing…

Father’s Day will be especially hard for Jonathan and Kayla, children of the late Arturo Cantu, one of his sisters said. (Supplied photo)

‘They didn’t have to kill my brother’ – sister of slain Bridgeview man

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch Arturo Cantu should be celebrating two big events this weekend. He would have celebrated his 40th birthday on June 14. And, a sister said, he would have enjoyed Father’s Day on Sunday, spending time with family and his two young children. Instead, 10 family members and friends gathered in a…

Sisto Brito

‘You just learn to live with the pain’

Spread the love

Spread the loveStatus hearing in July for McCook murder By Steve Metsch The attorney representing a Chicago man charged with murdering a Blue Island man in McCook in February told a judge Wednesday there’s been “a significant and outstanding discovery in this matter.” Attorney Damon Cheronis made his comment before Cook County Circuit Court Judge…

lagrange police logo

Man shot in La Grange; suspect arrested in Stickney

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A man was shot Tuesday afternoon in La Grange, according to a news release received Wednesday from the police department. A suspect has been apprehended, the release said. The shooting victim remains in stable condition at a local hospital, the release said. La Grange Police, working with the Major Case…

Funeral2

Obituaries June 13, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the loveREV. EDWARD J. CRONIN Rev. Edward J. Cronin, retired priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and former pastor of St. Alexander Parish in Palos Heights, passed away Sunday, June 2, 2024, at the age of 69. Rev. Cronin was born on Nov. 8, 1954, in Chicago. He attended St. Francis de Sales High…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound June 12, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Softball stock

Softball | Marist will play for state title for fourth straight season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Randy Whalen Correspondent Marist returned to the state title game for the fourth straight season with a 7-1 victory over Mundelein in the semifinals, held June 7 at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria. The Mustangs (36-2) were making their first appearance at state since 1996. “We have a core group of returners,”…

Terrence Hickey is retiring at the end of June after working 18 years as a building inspector for the village of McCook. (Photo by Steve Metsch) 

McCook building inspector retires after 18 years

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch After 18 years of inspecting buildings, be it a modest bi-level house or a sprawling multi-million-dollar warehouse, Terrence Hickey is retiring from the village of McCook. His retirement takes effect June 28, Mayor Terrance Carr said during the June 3 meeting of the village board. “I’m jealous,” Carr said. “(He’s…

Members of Summit Girl Scout Troop 56615. (Supplied photo)

New Summit Girl Scout troop off and running

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan There’s a new Girl Scout Troop in Summit, and they have been busy. Troop 56615 is made up of girls from Summit School District 104 from first-grade to third-grade, and between 7-9 years old, making them Brownies in the scouting world. They have 10 girls so far, and Troop Leader…

Neighbors

Illinois child tax credit: who gets it, how much is it?

Illinois child tax credit: who gets it, how much is it?

By ANDREW ADAMS Capitol News Illinois aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com In the final hours of their spring legislative session, Illinois lawmakers approved a tax credit of up to about $300 for families with young children.  The credit is available to Illinoisans with children under age 12 who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Although…

Members of House speaker’s staff sue over ongoing unionization conflict

Members of House speaker’s staff sue over ongoing unionization conflict

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Members of a would-be union representing staffers in House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s office filed suit against their boss on Friday, asking a Cook County judge to force recognition of the union. The Illinois Legislative Staff Association, which formed in the fall of 2022, claims Welch’s…

Elections board urged to dismiss complaint that Bailey illegally coordinated in 2022 campaign

Elections board urged to dismiss complaint that Bailey illegally coordinated in 2022 campaign

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com A hearing officer is recommending the Illinois State Board of Elections dismiss a complaint that alleged conservative radio host and political operative Dan Proft illegally coordinated with former Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey during his 2022 campaign for governor. Proft, a one-time gubernatorial candidate himself, is behind an…

Communities, commission push Pritzker admin for more prison plan details

Communities, commission push Pritzker admin for more prison plan details

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois news@capitolnewsillinois.com Jimmy Soto spent more than 42 years wrongfully imprisoned in Illinois Department of Corrections facilities. In 2020, he was moved to the “F-House” at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, a condemned unit, not because he was being punished, but because it was where the facility was housing individuals…

Judge blocks law that would have banned newly slated candidates from ballot

Judge blocks law that would have banned newly slated candidates from ballot

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com A Sangamon County judge on Wednesday blocked the Illinois State Board of Elections from enforcing a new law that would have prevented certain General Assembly candidates who didn’t run in the March primary from getting on the November ballot. The move doesn’t void the bill in its entirety,…

“No Schoolers”: How Illinois’ hands-off approach to homeschooling leaves children at risk

“No Schoolers”: How Illinois’ hands-off approach to homeschooling leaves children at risk

By BETH HUNDSDORFER  & MOLLY PARKER  CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS investigations@capitolnewsillinois.com This article was produced for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in partnership with Capitol News Illinois. It was on L.J.’s 11th birthday, in December 2022, that child welfare workers finally took him away. They arrived at his central Illinois home to investigate an abuse allegation and decided…

Brushing off concerns of overspending, Pritzker signs $53.1 billion state budget

Brushing off concerns of overspending, Pritzker signs $53.1 billion state budget

By ANDREW ADAMS JERRY NOWICKI & HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois news@capitolnewsillinois.com CHICAGO – Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday signed the state’s $53.1 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, the largest in state history.  The signing caps months of work – and tension – among top Democratic leaders in Springfield and within the…

Stalled bills: ‘Dignity in Pay Act,’ Prisoner Review Board changes fail to move

Stalled bills: ‘Dignity in Pay Act,’ Prisoner Review Board changes fail to move

By ALEX ABBEDUTO,  COLE LONGCOR & DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois news@capitolnewsillinois.com A bill eliminating the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities failed to pass the General Assembly ahead of its May adjournment, although sponsors say they hope to pass it when lawmakers return in the fall. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938…

Time running out to net and protect young plants from cicada-related damage

Time running out to net and protect young plants from cicada-related damage

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com While Illinois’ dual emergence of periodical cicada broods is harmless to people and animals, young trees may sustain serious damage if not protected by mid-June, experts at The Morton Arboretum said. This is the first co-emergence of these two broods since 1803, researcher Katie Dana from the Illinois…

Illinois made a bold promise to end poverty. In Alexander County, it’s hard to tell.

Illinois made a bold promise to end poverty. In Alexander County, it’s hard to tell.

By LYLEE GIBBS JAMILAH LEWIS MOLLY PARKER & JULIA RENDLEMAN Capitol News Illinois & the Saluki Local Reporting Lab news@capitolnewsillinois.com This story, produced in partnership with Southern Illinois University journalism students, was supported by grant funding from the Pulitzer Center. Pink and purple toys line the living room of this tiny public housing apartment in…