Pleasant Plains defeats A-J in semifinal round action
For the first time this season, the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team was defeated when it fell 41-2 to host Pleasant Plains Saturday, Nov. 18, in Illinois High School Association postseason playoff action.
“The margin of win was unexpected,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “We made some mistakes we didn’t make all year. It was disappointing for us we didn’t play like we did all year.”
The loss in the semifinals of the Class 3A playoffs eliminated the Wildcats, who finished 12-1.
Pleasant Plains advances to the championship with a 10-3 record.
“We’ve had a lot of success running the football but we couldn’t get our running game going,” Detering said.
The Cardinals stopped a potent Wildcat running attack which has featured Jayce Turner, Bryce Osman and Arieh Hart.
The Wilcats had only 106 yards of total rushing yardage. Turner led the way with 89 yards rushing on 29 carries, Osman had 19 yards on 10 carries and Hart had 11 yards on seven carries.
The Cardinals finished with 309 yards rushing. Running back Nik Samson led the way with 208 yards rushing on 22 carries. Lucas Western added 100 yards on nine carries.
“They were not that explosive on (game) film,” Detering said. “They have a good running back in Samson. They were very successful keeping the ball on the ground and we needed some defensive stops.”
A-J quarterback Osman was 2 of 7 passing for 36 yards, but had two interceptions. Damian Chrisp had one reception of 26 yards and Hart the other for 12 yards.
“We had to throw a bit because we couldn’t get our running game going,” Detering said.
The Cardinals wasted little time taking charge.
Receiving the opening kick off on the 20-yard line, Samson closed out a nine-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Kai Carlberg’s extra point kick put Pleasant Plains ahead 7-0 with 7:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats moved to midfield and were forced to punt, but the Cardinals were offsides on the punt and A-J picked up a first down.
A-J put up its best offensive showing of the game as it marched downfield, and on a fourth down play, Osman was halted an inch short of the goal line.
After two plays, running back Carlberg was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
The Wildcats pulled to 7-2 with 1:36 remaining in the opening quarter.
Hart fumbled the free kick and Tristen Tewes recovered at the A-J 37.
Five plays later, Samson scored on a 5-yard run. The kick was good and the Cardinals led 14-2 with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, A-J was forced to punt again. Punter Eric Massey was tackled for a 10-yard loss after a low snap from center at the Wildcats’ 27 yard line.
Samson then scored on the first play and after the extra point kick the Cardinals led 21-2 with 3:21 remaining in the opening half.
The Wildcats were driving near midfield when the first half ended.
After A-J punted to start the second half, Western scored on a 7-yard run after a 4-play drive. The kick boosted Pleasant Plains to 28-2 with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Tristan Davis picked off an Osman pass to thwart the next Wildcats’ drive.
The Cardinals were forced to punt again and the Wildcats next drive stalled on another intercepted pass by Carlberg.
After the Wildcats punted again, the Cardinals were on the move.
Pleasant Plains scored on a 48-yard TD run after a four play drive. The extra point kick was no good and Pleasant Plains closed out the scoring with 11:49 left in the game.
“It was unfortunate it had to end like this,” Detering said. “But I’m real proud of our kids. We kind of surprised a lot of people.”
Detering said the high finish was unexpected because when the seniors were freshmen they finished 4-4 overall and as sophomores were under .500.
“I’m really proud of our seniors,” Detering said. “They have a lot to be proud of. We lose 14 seniors and there will be a lot of big shoes to fill. We’ll miss a lot of offensive production, but we return a lot of linemen. But it happens every year and people graduate and kids have to step up.
“But I was very, very proud of our kids and they had great support,” from the fans, the A-J coach said.
This was the third time a team coached by Detering has advanced to the semifinals, going in 2003 and 2006. He finishes his 21st season as head coach of the Wildcats.