WHITING ← Against most opponents, it would have been a routine punt in somewhat tight quarters. Not against Times No. 6 Boone Grove.
Whiting punter Tony Madrueno received the snap from the 5-yard line and stepped out the back of the end zone. The Oilers voluntarily took a safety rather than punt to Wolves speedster Brae'ton Vann, who entered with 29 total touchdowns this season.
These days, Vann changes the game without even touching the ball. He did it again Friday as Boone beat Whiting 44-7 in Class 2A Sectional 33 first-round action.
By now, teams have learned not to punt to him ← EC Central did the same on Sept. 12. Vann loves it.
“At EC, they snapped it over (the punter's) head and out of the end zone – they did it on purpose,” Vann said. “It's kind of cool; it's kind of funny.”
Whiting had a reason to fear Vann. The senior all-purpose star gashed the Oilers for 338 yards and five touchdowns on only 11 carries in Whiting last week. And he had galloped 72 yards to the house four plays from scrimmage earlier.
That was just a warm-up, though. With Boone expecting an onside kick up big in the fourth, Whiting booted the ball long into empty space. Vann ran back, picked it up, broke three tackles and flew down the right sideline for an impossible 95-yard score.
“He's not afraid,” Wolves coach Dan Kukulski said. “He kind of likes to see the way the field develops, and then when he gets it, he knows where he's gonna go. He's got those special moves that open up space for him pretty quick.”
Vann ran for 129 yards on seven carries and finished with three total touchdowns, but got plenty of help, too. Senior quarterback Jake Mayersky ran for 79 yards, including scores of 26 and 37 yards, and grabbed two interceptions on defense to boot.
Early in the third, Mayersky rolled left with Vann sprinting in front of him then floated the ball over a defender into Vann's hands. Vann sprinted ahead of the field then leap-frogged a diving Oiler into the end zone. The 26-yarder made it 37-0.
Madrueno scampered in for a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth, but it was all Boone otherwise.
The Wolves (10-0) visit No. 9 Andrean next Friday. Through the regular season, Andrean ranked more than 50 spots higher in prep guru John Harrell's computer rankings than any team Boone has played.
“We've been thinking about the Andrean game all season, and next week's the week,” Mayersky said. “We're finally getting a chance.”