FOOTBALL

How these seniors upheld high expectations for Williamsville football

Bill Welt
State Journal-Register

CHAMPAIGN — Williamsville’s senior class soaked up the previous trip to the state finals in 2019 as freshmen. 

This time, they fueled the Bullets to the program’s third championship game appearance.  

It just didn’t work out as it hoped in a 48-17 loss to Elmhurst IC Catholic in the Class 3A state championship game at Memorial Stadium on Friday.  

“They were on the sidelines for that state championship win and they took so much from that,” Williamsville coach Aaron Kunz said. “It's just been a great experience and these guys took a lot from those guys, and these guys have taught the younger guys what it takes now, too.” 

Those seasoned veterans added to the school’s football legacy by overcoming a defensive gauntlet with narrow wins over Eureka, 18-16 in the second round and Tolono Unity, 12-7 in the semifinals.  

Williamsville's Gage Knoles (12), Nolan Bates (1) and Luke Vaughn walk off the field after their 48-17 loss to IC Catholic in the Class 3A football state title game Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 in Champaign.

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“It's awesome having so many weapons on the offense,” Williamsville senior receiver Ethan Hinds said. “There's not a guy that any of us don't trust on the offense. That was just a good football team. We've seen good football teams the last three weeks, and unfortunately, we just couldn't get it done today.” 

That offense showcased its wares with an early 10-0 lead in the first half. Senior receiver Jackson Workman hauled in a 16-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Jake Seman early in the second quarter.  

“This was my dream, right? I've been wanting this for so long ... since I've started playing football. That's what I wanted to do,” Workman said of the TD grab. 

Seman finished his career 23-of-40 for 185 yards and two TDs with two INTs. He threw to eight different targets.

Williamsville head coach Aaron Kunz gives senior lineman Jacob Finley a hug after the Bullets' 48-17 loss to IC Catholic in the Class 3A football state title game Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 in Champaign.

Hinds led the way with seven catches for 57 yards, while Colvin Fleck and Mason Lyttaker had five apiece for 37 and 25 yards, respectively. Workman had four for 39 yards and a score.  

Seman totaled 86 rushing yards as well.  

“They all go out and make plays for me,” Seman said. “I've been playing with all of them since I was 5 years old 12 years ago, and they helped me through a lot of everything.” 

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Seman garnered school records for passing touchdowns and completions, as well as total yards over the course of the season.  

“The last four years have been the best four years of my life,” Seman said. 

Workman said he learned from Noah Sanders in particular on that 2019 squad. Hinds feels this year’s senior group also helped cement the foundation for the future. 

“It's everything we've ever dreamed of,” Hinds said. “Obviously, we didn't dream it would end in this way, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. There's 22 of my best friends on the field at all times and it's been that way since we were 5 years old. Sometimes things just can't go your way and that's fine. That was a darn good football team and credit to them.”

Contact Bill Welt: (217) 788-1545,bill.welt@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt