NORMAL — Five victories guaranteed the Normal Community High School football team a winning season and nothing more.
The magical sixth win — secured Friday in a 37-6 Big 12 Conference domination of Champaign Central — vaulted the Ironmen into the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season.
“It’s win No. 6,” NCHS coach West Temples said. “We had to win. We were pretty sure 5-4 wasn’t going to get us in.”
A fourth straight victory spurred the Ironmen to 6-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12.
Champaign Central (0-9, 0-8) seized a short-lived lead on a 1-yard Tion Posey scoring plunge before the NCHS rushing attack took over.
A 52-yard Nick Rohde kickoff return set up the first Ironmen touchdown, a 1-yard run by freshman Alec Bozarth.
Grant Donath’s 21-yard field goal boosted the NCHS lead to 10-0 before Bozarth rambled 10 yards for another touchdown midway through the second quarter.
“It seems like he always leans forward. Regardless where he gets hit, he always gets the next yard,” Temples said of Bozarth. “He follows those blockers. That senior group (of linemen) is a nice group. Boz is getting spoiled as a freshman with those guys in front of him.”
Bozarth rushed for 117 yards on 14 carries, while junior DJ Frank added 115 yards on a mere four attempts.
“The line was fantastic. They had a really good game,” said Bozarth. “We treated this game like it was the first playoff game. We had to come out here and get our win.”
Frank, who paved the way for Donath’s field goal with a 61-yard gain, broke free for a 53-yard touchdown sprint and a 24-6 NCHS advantage at the 3:13 mark of the second quarter.
Bozarth ran 35 yards for a score on the fourth play of a second half played in a steady rain. Quarterback Austin Jones capped the touchdown barrage with a 6-yard run.
“After the first drive I thought we played a pretty nice ballgame,” Temples said. “The first drive we were pretty sluggish.”
NCHS rolled up 297 of its 331 yards of total offense on the ground.
Champaign was limited to 151 yards.
Quarterback Jamal Stovall completed 6 of 12 for 95 yards, while Tion Posey needed 22 carries to rush for 45 yards.