LOWELL | As impressive as Kankakee Valley’s offense had been in its first two wins of the season over Rensselaer and Wheeler, it was its defense that rose to the occasion Friday night at the Inferno.
The Kougars (3-0, 1-0 NCC) put on an impressive display, especially their front seven, in a convincing 17-7 win over host Lowell. The Kougars, who are indeed for real, beat the Red Devils (1-2, 0-1) for the first time since 1984.
“This is the start of a new year,” said sophomore linebacker Johnny Williams, who sacked Lowell quarterback Bryan Thomas three times. “We’re 3-0, and we can’t wait to keep going.”
The K.V. defense registered 10 tackles for loss, including seven sacks and held Lowell to 109 total yards of offense.
“We match up well with a team like Lowell because we are a good run defense and they’re a run-football team,” K.V. coach Brad Stewart said. “It doesn’t hurt that I know their offense pretty well.”
K.V.‘s Williams and Johnny Morrison wreaked havoc all night long. Williams finished with 13 tackles, including two other tackles for loss, while Morrison had eight tackles with two sacks.
The biggest defensive play came when Williams caused a fumble of running back Tyler Hopkins at the K.V. 40-yard line late in the fourth quarter that Tommy Holme pounced on to maintain the 17-7 lead.
“I was just trying to hit him as hard as I could, and we got the fumble,” Williams said.
The Kougars then ran out the clock to gain the coveted Milk Can trophy for the first time since its inception in 1993.
“It’s absolutely great for these kids,” Stewart said. “This is something they’ve never experienced before. They worked hard to get this, and boy are we proud of these guys.”
In the first half, K.V. quarterback Joel Bolen ran 66 yards on an option around the right end to set up its first touchdown. Tyler Birky bulled in from the six on fourth down to put the Kougars up 7-0 with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
K.V. also used some trickery on its next possession. Birky hooked up with Matt Myers for a 29-yard reception on a fake-punt pass. The play set up a 36-yard field goal by Mark Lukacek that gave K.V. a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
Birky rushed for 102 yards and added a 37-yard TD jaunt in the third quarter.
Thomas tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to Michael Hilbrich for Lowell’s points.
K.V. is 3-0 on the season for the first time since 1995, when it finished the campaign 6-3.