PEOTONE — Peotone’s football team knew the margin of error in Saturday’s IHSA Class 3A playoff game against Hall would be razor thin, as both teams entered play with 6-3 records and similar playing styles.
With the margins that narrow, it was untimely penalties and costly mistakes that doomed the Blue Devils, who saw their season end at home with a 20-0 loss.
Both squads locked heads after a scoreless first quarter until fullback Cole Wozniak rumbled into the end zone from four yards out with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter to give Hall a 6-0 lead.
The Blue Devils started to get things going offensively on its next drive, moving the ball all the way to Hall’s six-yard line, thanks to the legs of Ben Balmer and quarterback Max Gesswein.
But after marching to the Red Devils’ six-yard line for a first-and-goal, a holding call pushed the Blue Devils back and they never recovered, turning the ball over on downs.
The Blue Devils had Hall dead to rights on a third-and-long on its next possession, but quarterback Grant Resetich scrambled around on a broken play and completed a prayer to Austin Heinecke at Peotone’s one-yard line, setting up a Resetich touchdown on the ground the next play to make the score 12-0 with eight minutes left in the half.
Peotone’s longest play from scrimmage came in the third quarter when Gesswein connected with Sam Biedron for 58-yard gain to put Peotone back in the red zone. Biedron and a Hall defender both had the ball in their hands at the same time before Biedron ripped the ball away and took off for the big gain.
The Blue Devils again looked poised to put points on the board, but once again, penalties would turn out to be their demise and stall the drive out.
After the Blue Devils defense came up with another stop, the offense started grinding away but would have two different fourth-down conversions called back on penalties, once again halting a crucial drive with under ten minutes left in the game.
That’s as close as things would get as Marshall Walk sprung a 46-yard touchdown run to give Hall a 20-0 lead with 5:31 left in the fourth quarter to ice the game away for the Red Devils.
“We did some good things in the second half,” said Peotone coach Apostolos Tsiamas. “We just shot ourselves in the foot too many times whenever we got inside the ten-yard line.
“Hall out-executed us. They were more physical at the point of contact. I thought our defense played well minus a few missed assignments, but overall, Hall played better than us today and deserved to win this playoff game.”
Tsiamas said that the 2019 campaign was a roller coaster ride of a season, filled with highs and lows and everything in between.
“We started off strong at 5-1 this season,” he said. “But then some injuries got to us, and we never fully recovered from them.”
Tsiamas was candid about what he told his seniors after the game.
“I told them that I was proud of them for sticking this out the last four seniors and then I told them to take some of these life lessons you’ve learned through football and apply it to life as you move on to the next chapter.”
Balmer finished with 34 yards rushing on 15 carries. Sophomore Ryan Moe chipped in 28 yards on eight attempts. Gesswein was 1-of-6 passing for 58 yards and one interception.