2000 Season game by game recap

The 2000 Joliet Catholic season recap:

Week 1 at Lawrence North Indiana:
Opened the season several hundred miles away in Indianapolis Indiana, the Hilltoppers defeated North 47-21.

Week 2 hosting Chicago Mount Carmel
Billed as The BIG One! Chicago Mount Carmel (Class 5A 1999 champions) came into this game ranked as the number 1 team in Class 5A versus JCA (Class 4A 1999 champions) as the number 1 team in Class 4A. Mount Carmel left Joliet with a 29-22 loss in front of 8,000 fans at Memorial Stadium as junioe QB Craig Tomasino completed three TD passes to TE Mike Kolodziej. The Hill led 22-0 at one point.

Week 3 at St Patrick
The Hilltoppers beat St Pat's 36-0 as the JCA defense held St Pat's to just over 100 yards of total offense. RB JR Zwierzynski and the rest of the JCA offense gains over 300 yards of total offense.

Week 4 hosting Marian Catholic
The BIG One Part 2! Marian Catholic (Class 5A 1999 runner-up) enterted this game as the new Class 5A number one ranked team, and again JCA sent the Spartans packing with an impressive 34-18 victory. RB JR Zwierzynski ran for 155 yards and 3 TD's in the win in front of over 6,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. The defense again held a powerful Marian Catholic offense to just under 200 yards of offense.

Week 5 at Bishop McNamara
Junior RB JR Zwierzynski rushed for 192 yards on 19 carries and scored 3 TD's and junior QB Craig Tomasino passed for 11/18 165 yards 1TD (rushed for 1TD and added 2 PAT's and a 30 yard field goal) as Joliet Catholic defeated Kankakee Bishop McNamara 39-22 on Friday in Kankakee. JCA had a 32-6 lead going into the 4th quarter until Bishop Mac scored 2 late TD's. According to JCA head coach Dan Sharp "We played a very good football game for three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we let up a bit. If we are going anywhere (in the state playoffs) we have to finish off games."

Week 6 hosting Niles Notre Dame
The Hilltoppers rolled to it's 6th straight win as Joliet Catholic defeated Niles Notre Dame 42-12 in Joliet. Junior RB JR Zwierzynski led the Hilltoppers with 20/170 yards and 2TD's. The Hilltoppers emassed 402 total yards of offense (356 on the ground). The Hilltoppers officially have qualified for the state playoffs (6-0/4-0) and the defense limited Niles ND to 181 yards of total offense.

According to Joliet Catholic head coach Dan Sharp "That was a great combination of offense, defense and special teams, the best job we've done executing and managing the clock with the wind all year."

Week 7 at Benet Academy
The Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers went to 7-0 on the season, beating Benet Academy 42-0 on Saturday. RB JR Zwierzynski rushed for 11/105 and 5 TD's and the Hill gained 465 yards of offense while holding Benet to 175 total yards for the game. Zwierzynski also caught 4 passes for 113 yards. The defense played exceptionally well despite missing standout DE Pat McShane who was out with the flu.

According to Joliet Catholic head coach Dan Sharp "Our defense really played well. Our eight man front has multiple blitz packages and all of our linebackers can run. We pressure from different angles, and we rely on that type of pressure. We need to clean up the penalties (10/68 yards) but once we do that, we'll be even better!"

Week 8 hosting Marist
The Hillmen(8-0/6-0) clinched their second straight Catholic Metro White conference title tonight beating Chicago Marist 37-10 in Joliet. Junior RB JR Zwierzynski added 101 yards rushing on 15 carries and 2 TD's for the Hilltoppers, while junior QB Craig Tomasino was 6/12 188 yards and 2 TD's.

Despite the lopsided score, the game was much more closer and intense than at first look. According to JCA head coach Dan Sharp "We needed this game. The game got very heated and Marist id as good as any team in out conference. They were prepared and came at us."

Penalties again reared their ugly head for the Hillmen against Marist. The Hill was guilty of several false start calls, and with each call the Hill's sidelines became more animated. "They (Marist) were yelling "Gold" and our cadence is "Go". They knew what our cadence is and put it in just for this game. That's what I was upset about. As I read the rule book, that's unsportsmanlike conduct. The referees finally enforced it and they were called for it later in the game." Marist head coach Bob Yanello (former JCA assistant) charged the field after the Redhawks were called for the penalty and was ejected from the game.

Week 9 at Carmel
The Hilltoppers jumped to a 28-6 halftime lead en route to a 34-22 win over Carmel of Mundelein on Friday to finish a perfect 9-0 regular season. Junior RB JR Zwierzynski (132 all purpose yards/3TD's) and senior FB Chris Gruber (15/120 2TD) led the Hill offense.

Most importantly, the Hilltoppers have a 23 game winning streak and enter the playoffs relatively healthy. According to head coach Dan Sharp "All in all, I'm pleased with the way the offensve line and the defense played. But we have to finish better than we did!" The Hilltoppers second team defense gave up 2 late TD's to Carmel.

Round 1 Class 4A state playoffs!
Joliet Catholic opened the Class 4A playoffs much like the regular season with a 45-0 win over Normal Community West High School. Senior QB/TE Jason Lynch, RB JR Zwierzynski (14/145 rushing) and FB Chris Gruber all added two TD's in the rout. The Hill defense was also ready for the Class 4A playoffs, holding Normal West to just 68 yards of total offense and 3 of the Normal West first downs were from JCA penalties. Joliet Catholic took a 17-0 halftime lead despite 3 second quarter JCA fumbles. According to head coach Dan Sharp "The fumbles were somewhat of a surprise because we haven't done that and our running backs ususally take better care of the ball." Sharp added that "we only had four kids playing in their first playoff game, and we certainly had some jitters."

Another concern for Sharp and the Hill are penalties. JCA again was flagged for 12/106 yards and had a TD called back. "Fumbles and penalties. Penalties are a problem, and it seems they always are with the motion we have in our offense, but we cleaned that up in the second half." Junior QB Craig Tomasino was 4/6 102 yards and 1TD in the Hill win!

Round 2 vs Taylorville
Joliet Catholic traveled 200 plus miles to Taylorville on Saturday and made quick work of the Tornadoes and won handily 49-8 to advance to the Class 4A quarterfinals against Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin. The game will be played at 2PM this Saturday at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

Junior RB JR Zwierzynski continued to add to his outstanding 2000 season stats as JR rushed for 11/177 and 4 TD's. Zwierzynski also threw a 26 yard halfback option pass for a TD as well.

Joliet Catholic opened the game with a score on it's first possession of the game on a 67 yard TD run by Zwierzynski, and RB Chris Gruber added the 2 point conversion for an 8-0 lead. JCA then drove 68 yards on 13 plays in it's next possession whcih was capped off by a 4 yard TD run by Zwierzynski making it an early 14-0 JCA lead. Taylorville scored it's only points of the game after a JCA fumble on the JCA 42 yard line and drove in 6 plays making it 14-8 with the 2 point conversion. According to JCA head coach Dan Sharp "When it was 14-8 I was a little nervous because we knew how well they could throw the ball."

JCA calmed Sharp's fears when on it's next possession JCA scored on a 39 yard TD run by Chris Gruber. JCA also caught a break on the ensuing kickoff as the short and high kick bounced off a Taylorville helmet and JCA recovered. Six plays later JR Zwierzynski added a 20 yard TD run and the rout was on.

Class 4A Quarterfinal at home against Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin
The Hilltoppers survived a wild Class 4A quarterfinal game in Joliet as JCA defeated Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin 52-35 to advance to the Class 4A semifinals next week against Pontiac in Pontiac.

Joliet Catholic took an early 24-0 first quarter lead, only to see Griffin come roaring back to make it a 24-22 game with 4:09 left in the first half. Joliet Catholic would then score 2 TD's before the half by RB Chris Gruber to make it 39-22 at the half.

According to JCA head coach Dan Sharp, the Northwestern Wildcats are partially to blame. "Gosh darn those Northwestern guys anyway. Now everyone is running that spread offense of theirs. It's fun to watch, but I don't want to defend it."

Junior RB JR Zwierzynski (247 all purpose yards) and RB Chris Gruber (13/138 3TD's) led the Hilltopper offense which had 548 yards of offense (379 rushing) for the game. Sacred heart Griffin had a stellar performance from QB Brad Selinger (16/35 220 yards 2TD/2INT) in the loss.

Sharp, when asked about what is left for Pontiac next week said "the trick bag is empty, but that's a double edged sword. On one hand, they've seen it all. On the other hand, they will have to prepare for it all."

At Pontiac Class 4A semifinals!
The battle lives up to all expectations, as Joliet Catholic gets a late 4th quarter TD run from junior RB JR Zwierzynski and holds on 28-20 to advance to the Class 4A title game this Saturday against Metamora, a 30-14 winner over Kankakee Bishop McNamara.

"My stomach hasn't gotten back down from my throat yet" said JCA head coach Dan Sharp after the thrilling win over Pontiac "what a well-prepared, well-coached, class program Pontiac is. They deserve to be going to a state championship game too."

According to Pontiac head coach Mick Peterson "The message I want to leave is that JCA is the best team we've played, and if we're not the best team they've played, we've got to be pretty stinkin close!"

JR Zwierzynski continues to impress, as the junior RB gained 221 yards rushing on 23 carries, but none of his carries was as important as his carry with 1:28 left in the game. Pontiac was able to tie the game late in the 4th quarter as Pontiac QB Tommy Green ran 34 yards up the middle on a QB sneak to tie the ballgame at 20-20. The ensuing PAT try was blocked by JCA's Joe Koren. After the kickoff, it was simply JR time.

Zwierzynski got the ball on the first play of it's drive, got a trap block from Steve Douglas and ran 78 yards for the TD. According to Zwierzynski "We were hoping (Shawn) Garland would get to the backer on that play. He did and it went. We always get good blocking downfield, and once I got away, I just ran as hard as I could." Dan Sharp noted "When you put the ball into JR's hands, good things are going to happen."

Joliet Catholic will again face Metamora for the second straight Class 4A state title. JCA defeated Metamora 48-13 to win the 1999 Class 4A championship game!

Class 4A Title game at the University of Illinois versus Metamora
"EDGY, this is great!" That was the reaction from JCA's senior DE Pat McShane moments after Joliet Catholic defeated Metamora 27-14 for the Class 4A title on Saturday.

Joliet Catholic Academy withstood a cold and rainy day as well as the Metamora Redbirds to win it's second straight Class 4A state title this weekend with a 27-14 win over unbeaten Metamora. The Hilltoppers now own 9 state titles overall in Illinois.

The first half saw the heavyweight slugfest that was anticipated. Joliet Catholic got on the board first with a 6 yard TD from RB Chris Gruber (53 yards 2 TD's). Metamora answered with a Joe Stamm (25/172 yards) 18 yard TD run to tie things at 7-7. Joliet Catholic RB JR Zwierzynski (28/174 2TD's) added a two yard TD run late in the second quarter to make it 13-7 JCA at the half.

Metamora still trailed 13-7 late in the third quarter as QB Stamm took things into his own hands on 4th and 1 on thier own 25 yard line and sprinted for 46 yards. Later in the same drive, Stamm broke open again for a 21 yard TD run and the PAT made it 14-13 Metamora going into the 4th quarter. On it's next possession, JCA was able to drive to the Metamora 37 yard line but a Craig Tomasino was intercepted giving Metamora new life. But two plays later Metamora WB Nathan Ferguson fumbled and JCA's Ross Brocies recovered the ball at the Metamora 20. 4 plays later Gruber scored on a one yard TD run making it a JCA 19-14 lead. Then with it's back to the ball and facing a 4th and 5 on it's own 41 yard line, Stamm was sacked for a two yard loss by JCA's DB Jake Jaworski with just under 5 minutes left in the game. JCA then drove the field and Zwierzynski added his second TD of the game with a 12 yard run with 1:18 left to play. Zwierzynski also added a two point conversion pass to Gruber to make it a 27-14 JCA final.

After the ballgame, JCA head coach Dan Sharp added that "They (Metamora) are one of the finest teams that we have ever faced, and their quarterback (Stamm) is one of the finest athletes we've played against. One of these years that guy (Ryan) is gonna get it done and no one will root for him as much as I will."

Metamora head coach Pat Ryan also added that "It's not getting any easier to do this" eluding to having to take second place for the second straight year "My hat's off to Joliet Catholic. They are a great team and were everything they were built up to be."

Sharp, when asked about the running of junior RB JR Zwierzynski stated that "I've never seen a back with a combination of size, speed and grace. JR runs it as well as anyone. I thank God we have him for one more year."

Another junior, DE Mike Kolodziej (6'7" 280lbs) stated that "It was just a brutal game. Their line was huge. I had two 300 pound guys on me all game long. But this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me. I was ready to play this game on Monday. I didn't want to wait."

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