Hearts' Football Season Comes to End in State Quarterfinals


Published on November 10 2018 6:45 pm
Last Updated on November 16 2018 7:52 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The 2018 Effingham Hearts football team began the season in the shadow of a squad that reached the second round of the playoffs and featured 19 seniors, 15 of whom were starters.


Then, this season's squad lost its first two games.

Then...then the fun began.

This season's squad then ran off nine straight wins and gave perennial power Kankakee McNamara all they wanted in Class 4A quarterfinal action Saturday before falling 42-35 in an epic contest at Klosterman Field. The game was heard on 979XFM and www.979xfm.com

McNamara won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Hearts responded as they have most of the season, by scoring on the first possession of the game. 

Effingham staged a five-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Landon Wolfe to Tristin Duncan to put the Hearts up 7-0 following Beau Hefner's extra point kick.

The Hearts got a stop and scored on their next possession at the end of a seven-play, 77-yard drive capped by a seven-yard pass from Wolfe to Nathan Shackelford. Ivan Angel's extra point made it 14-0 Effingham with 4:04 left in the opening period.

McNamara came to life at the end of the first quarter, scoring with nine seconds remaining at the end of an eight-play, 66-yard drive on a 38-yard pass play from Tyler Hiller to Tyshon King. The extra point try was unsuccessful but McNamara was back within 14-6 after one period.

Neither team scored in the second quarter with the Hearts taking the lead to the locker room.

The third quarter was not a friend to Effingham.

In less than five minutes of playing time, McNamara scored three times to go from down 14-6 to up 27-14. The scores came on a six-yard touchdown run by King, a 66-yard pass to Payton Gerberding, and a 45-yard pass on an option play by Gerberding to Wilson Netherington.

But the Hearts didn't quit.

Effingham scored with 3:21 left in the third at the end of a nine-play, 74-yard drive when Logan Brown rumbled in from four yards out and Hefner's kick was good to make it 27-21.

However, an interception by the Hearts that was fumbled gave McNamara the ball on Effingham's 18 and they scored on the first play of the drive on a run by King. The extra point put McNamara back 34-21.

Still, Effingham kept coming back. The Hearts staged a 13-play, 78-yard drive that took seven minutes capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass by Wolfe to Jett Gillum. Angel's extra point made it 34-28 with 7:40 left in the game.

McNamara staged one more scoring drive, though, going 67 yards on seven plays on a 3:59 drive on which King galloped from the midfield stripe to the end zone. A pass for two put the Irish up 42-28 with just 3:41 remaining.

Again, the Hearts wouldn't quit. Effingham went 64 yards in eight plays in 1:34 highlighted by a pass from Wolfe to Duncan from 21 yards out. The extra point made it 42-35, but the Hearts' onside kick was recovered by McNamara and they ran out the clock.

The Hearts had a big edge in time of possession, 28:49 to 19:11. Effingham had 26 first downs to 16 for the Irish. The Hearts ran 66 plays to 47 for McNamara. Effingham rushed for 108 yards to 159 for the Irish. Effingham passed for 305 yards to 278 for McNamara. The Irish had a 437 to 413 edge in rushing and receiving.

Landon Wolfe's final game as the Hearts' quarterback was one of his best, completing 19 of 24 pass attempts for 293 yards and four touchdowns with one pick. 

The Hearts' attack was aided by the return of Tristin Duncan after a month away due to injury. Duncan caught a 40-yard pass on the first play of the game. He finished with seven catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Bushur...#18...had two 18-yard receptions. Nate Shackelford had three receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown. Logan Brown caught a 39-yard pass. Jacob Stoneburner had an eight-yard grab. Cameron Kalber caught a nine-yard pass. Jett Gillum had two catches for 14 yards and a touchdown. Kollin Waymoth had two catches for 15 yards. Shackelford also completed a 12-yard pass on an option play to Duncan.

Kendall Ballman led the Hearts' rushing attack with 85 yards on 20 carries. Logan Brown totaled 45 yards rushing on 10 attempts with a touchdown. Wolfe lost 28 yards on 10 rushes. Shackelford had two carries for six yards.

Irish Quarterback Tyler Hiller went eight for 16 for 233 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Gerberding also tried one pass and completed it for 45 yards and a touchdown to Wilson Netherington who caught two passes for 56 yards. Tyshon King had four catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. Gerberding caught a 66-yard touchdown pass. Manny Harris had a 14-yard grab. Owen Jackson had a six-yard catch.

King rushed 17 times for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Hiller rushed seven times for 23 yards. Owen Jackson had three rushes for two yards. Manny Harris had three carries for seven yards.

Effingham punter Dawson Whitten had two punts for 64 yards including a 40-yarder. Parker Wolfe had an interception good for 18 yards. Ivan Angel had five kickoffs for 198 yards. Kendall Ballman returned two kickoffs for 21 yards. Nate Shackelford returned four kickoffs for 50 yards. Jett Gillum had a six-yard return. Reese Evans recovered a fumble. The Hearts were hurt by four turnovers, including three lost fumbles.

Effingham says goodbye to 12 seniors: Noah Allen, Kendall Ballman, Landon Wolfe, Dylan Bushur, Ethan Kiser, Kaleb Kihne, Gage Franklin, Joey Duncan, Reese Evans, Jason Bowlin, Evan Evans and Matthew Hites.

Millie Lange was on hand to take photos from Saturday's action. Check those out elsewhere here on the football page. A video of the game will be up on social media later this week.