BLOOMINGTON — Stacked up for no gain on his first carry, Sa’mond Davis immediately and emphatically heard from his Central Catholic High School coaches on the sideline about how he had failed to exploit an open avenue to positive yardage.
Davis didn’t miss a hole the rest of Friday evening.
Empowered by a consistent push from the Saints’ offensive line, Davis rumbled and rambled for 255 yards and three touchdowns as Central Catholic convincingly claimed a share of the Illini Prairie Conference championship with a 35-13 victory over previously unbeaten Tolono Unity at Bill Hundman Memorial Field.
“It was 46 power. They said hit the hole. The next play they called 47 counter gap and said make sure you hit the hole and it was wide open,” Davis said. “It was great blocking by the line, and I just kept running.”
Davis picked up 38 yards on that second carry and surpassed 100 yards in each half while totaling 27 carries.
Ranked seventh in Class 3A, Central Catholic advanced to 8-1 overall and in the Illini Prairie to match No. 2-ranked Tolono (8-1, 8-1) and Monticello in a three-way tie for the league crown.
“It’s the power of making goals. Set a goal and go after it,” Saints coach Mike Moews said. “I think after the Monticello game (a week five loss) they really started focusing on what they wanted to accomplish.”
Central Catholic capped that first possession with a 13-yard touchdown surge up the middle by Max Moews on a quarterback draw. Tolono quickly countered with a 9-yard scoring pass from Steven Migut to Cale Shonkwiler.
After Davis stonewalled Migut on a fourth-and-1 rush, Central Catholic marched 62 yards on six plays with Davis taking a pitch to the right to cover the final 9 yards for the go-ahead score.
A Gage Juarez interception set up the next Saints’ touchdown, a 1-yard plunge by Davis for a 21-7 advantage at the 5:43 mark of the second quarter.
A 6-yard Migut touchdown keeper around the right end brought the Rockets within 21-13.
Max Moews then passed over the middle to James Morris, who plowed over two tacklers on his way to a 46-yard scoring reception and a 28-13 halftime margin.
Tolono drove to the Central Catholic 10 on the opening drive of the second half but was foiled by a Braden Glowacki interception at the 2.
“The whole team came together. We knew we had it in us,” said Glowacki, who added a second interception and also broke up a fourth-down pass. “We thought of this as a playoff game. We knew we had to play our best to win this game, and that’s exactly what we did.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Davis picked his way through traffic for a 19-yard touchdown run with 10:34 left.
“I was really in my zone,” Davis said. “We were so pumped up, and I was focused and mentally prepared. I had the mindset of no one person could tackle me.”
With Reece Seidl adding 68 yards on the ground, Central Catholic rushed for 349 of its 422 yards of total offense.
“Our effort was fantastic. We really did a great job the second half,” said Coach Moews. “I’m just so proud of how our offensive line played.”
Tolono rushed for 160 yards with Keaton Eckstein covering 82 yards and Migut 77.
“They did a great job of keeping us off balance,” Rockets coach Scott Hamilton said. “We tried to plug one gap and something else sprung. When they can be balanced like that, you can’t load the box on them.”