Green Dragons fall to Illini West in quarterfinals
The Aledo-Westmer Green Dragons lost to the Illini West Chargers, 22-6, Saturday, Nov. 15 in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs in Carthage. “We reached the quarterfinals in our second year at Class 3A. I’m pretty pleased with that,” said Aledo-Westmer head coach Cullen Welter after the game.
Welter said, “I can’t complain. If you would have told me before the game that we would hold them to 22 points, I thought we would have scored more. I give them a lot of credit. In holding us to one touchdown.
“We didn’t move the ball offensively. The offense couldn’t get going. We tried double-teaming their defensive tackles and we couldn’t move the ball. They (Illini West) are a very strong team.
Illini West began the game on the offense and drove 83 yards on an opening drive that lasted 17 plays and took up nearly eight minutes in the first quarter.
Fullback Stefan Flynn scored on a six-yard run at the 4:12 mark to give the Chargers a 6-0 lead. Quarterback Michael Lafferty completed the conversion pass to Kris Vincent go give Illini West an 8-0 lead.
The Chargers converted a crucial fourth down and three play early in the drive when Drake Schmudlach took the direct snap five yards on a fake punt attempt.
The Aledo-Westmer offense couldn’t pick up a first down on its initial drive and was forced to punt.
The Green Dragons would only have three plays on offense in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter Green Dragon Jordan Frieden recovered a fumble by Lafferty to give the Green Dragons the ball at the Illini West 45-yard line.
“I thought the defense played well today,” said Frieden. “They outpounded us toward the end.”
The Illini West defense held Aledo-Westmer again and the Green Dragons failed to covert on a fourth down and six play.
The two teams exchanged possessions for most of the second quarter as neither offense could move the ball.
The Green Dragons had only one first down in the opening half.
Pinned down at its own three-yard line Aledo-Westmer’s running back Matt Dawson broke free for 12 yards to give the Green Dragons some breathing room.
Illini West led 8-0 at the half.
The Green Dragons had the ball at the beginning of the third quarter but couldn’t move it against a stubborn Illini-West defense.
The chargers mounted a 11-play drive midway through the third quarter but the Green Dragons stopped the Chargers on the Aledo-Westmer one-yard line.
The Aledo-Westmer offense couldn’t move the ball on three tries and forced the Green Dragons to punt from its own endzone.
Illini West took over at the Green Dragons 17-yard line and scored in three plays. Flynn scored on an 11-yard run on a third down and three play to give Illini West a 14-0 lead. Zack Burling added the extra point and the Chargers were ahead 14-0 with 2:45 remaining in the third period.
The next Green Dragon drive failed and they were forced to punt again.
The Green Dragon defense was fed a steady diet Flynn who carried the ball on six straight plays culminating in a 10-yard scoring run with 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Burling’s extra point gave the Chargers a 22-0 lead.
Down 22 points the Green Dragons offense mounted a drive. Quarterback Brett Anderson ran for nine and 13 yards. He completed passes to Mason Bush for eight yards and Devon Bysinger for 23 yards.
The 13-play drive ended at the Illini West 18-yard line whcn Anderson’s pass fell incomplete on a fourth down and 12 play.
Illini West got a break on its next drive when Michael Lafferty broke a 59-yard run to the Green Dragon 17-yard line.
The Chargers didn’t score on the drive but left Aledo-Westmer deep in its own territory at the seven-yard line.
The Green Dragons managed to score with 11 seconds remaining on a five yard run by Anderson to cut the Aledo-Westmer lead to 22-6.
Welter said, “I’m proud of the way we came back in the second half of the season. The first time we came here I think it was a wake up call for us. A couple of weeks after that we started stepping it up in practice. We held a great team to 22 points.”
Jordan Friedan said after the game, “It’s a tough game. Coming from Westmer I never thought I’d get to play for a team like this. I’d never play for anybody else if I had a chance to.”
Matt Dawson said, “I love all of my teammates. We did a lot more than people expected from us. It sucks to go out like this.”
Illini West will face Oregon in the semi-finals this weekend while the Green Dragons finish the season with a 10-2 record.
The loss marks not only the end of the season for the Green Dragons but the end of Green Dragon football as it has come to be known in Illinois.
Earlier this month the voters in the Aledo and Westmer school districts voted to consolidate, adopt a new school name and a new mascot meaning the last Green Dragon football game has been played.
The Green Dragon mascot has seen the school win three state championships in football and finish second three years as well.