NORMAL — Ultimately, Normal Community West High School’s football team soared to a third straight lopsided victory Friday night. Only this time, the state-ranked Wildcats encountered a bit of turbulence.
No one was complaining following a 61-21 Big 12 Conference win over visiting Champaign Central.
“We wanted this,” said West senior safety/receiver Jon Maebane. “The first two games were kind of blowouts. We needed that challenge to see where we were. I think we responded in a good way.”
Champaign Central (1-2, 1-2) cut a 21-0 deficit to 21-14 midway through the second quarter. After 55-14 and 64-0 romps the first two weeks, the Class 6A No. 7 Wildcats suddenly were in a game.
Not for long.
On West’s next play from scrimmage, Alex Jefferson heaved a long pass down the left side. It bounced off of a leaping defender and into the hands of Maebane, who ran in for a 59-yard touchdown.
The Wildcats (3-0, 3-0) added a 32-yard Zach Breen field goal and a 6-yard Cory Ortiz TD run to lead 38-14 at the half. They went on to earn their third running-clock win by reaching the 40-point cushion with 9:02 left.
“I’ve been telling these guys all week that Central was a good team and ‘what are we going to do when we have a little adversity?’ ” West head coach Darren Hess said.
“I wanted to see how our kids responded. We kept our heads and kept our focus and were able to do what we wanted to do.”
It was another big night for Jefferson, who was 19 of 29 for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 23-yard TD to Matt Hunsaker and a 13-yarder to Terrance Fisher.
Jefferson ran for 58- and 1-yard scores, Braxton Moore sprinted 50 yards for a TD, Breen added a 37-yard field goal and defensive tackle Nick Bell returned a first-half interception 34 yards for a TD.
“We studied film a lot and Coach prepared me for that play,” the 240-pound Bell said. “I just reached up and grabbed it. A big light turned on when I caught it.”
West had 539 total yards. Ortiz led in rushing with 80 yards on 15 carries. Brad Wright had 109 yards in 20 attempts for the Maroons.