By Bob Balgemann REPORTER

After Harlem rallied to edge rival Hononegah in a road football game Oct. 14, football players and cheerleaders gathered in front of the student cheering section to sing the school song. That was a special moment for many, but in particular for Senior wide receiver Gabe Haun. He was given a ride atop the shoulders of some Huskie linemen in recognition of his catching the winning touchdown pass with about one minute left in the game. The play covered 27 yards; the pass was thrown by Junior quarterback Troy King in his first varsity start. Haun was the heir apparent to the vacancy created by the graduation of Malik Lightfoot in May 2015. Lightfoot caught 35 passes for 670 yards and nine touchdowns in his final season. But that didn’t immediately work out and Haun, a Junior and wearing Malik’s old No. 11, had one catch for four yards. Last summer he and fellow Senior Trent Willey, the returning quarterback, worked hard to prepare for the 2016 season. And, that effort has paid off. With one game left Haun has 21 catches for 370 yards and now five touchdowns. The last minute TD catch against Hononegah provided Harlem fans with the opportunity to celebrate yet another close victory. Earlier this season there was the 48-41 homecoming win over Belvidere. And don’t forget the 46-28 victory on the road at Belvidere North. The final score is misleading as the Blue Thunder were up 28-14 when the Huskies scored an improbable 32 points in the fourth quarter to prevail. Belvidere North and Harlem are accustomed to close games, as was seen on Sept. 25, 2015. That night, at home, the Huskies edged the Thunder, 34-31. Also, last year Harlem tripped Boylan, 19-15, for its second win in a row over the powerful Titans. And don’t forget the 22-17 win over Hononegah. Not all the close games have been victories, though. Belvidere scored a 21-14 upset, also in 2015.

Eight-Game Statistics

For the record, in that come-from-behind win over the Indians on Oct. 14, King was 8-for-18 passing for 89 yards and that memorable touchdown. So far this season he has completed 22 of 38 throws for 219 yards and the one score. Willey, in his third season as the starting quarterback, has been lost to injury. For the year he completed 70-of-139 passes for 823 yards and 10 touchdowns. Defenses have slowed Harlem’s ground game in the last two outings. But Senior running back Brenton Shaw still has compiled impressive numbers in eight games, running 206 times for 1,436 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has eight pass receptions for 70 yards. He’s been called on to pass two times, completing both for 118 yards and one TD. His 60-yard throw against Hononegah put Harlem in position to score the winning touchdown. Shaw has been impressive on defense, with 27 tackles, nine of them against the Indians. He also has intercepted one pass and recovered one fumble. And he has had an impact on special teams, returning one punt for a touchdown, while blocking one punt. The inexperienced pass receiving corps has stepped up to catch 94 balls in eight games. Freshman Jalon Benson leads in receptions with 22, good for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Haun’s 21 catches have covered a team-best 370 yards an average of 17.7 yards each, with the five TDs. And Senior Anthony Byrne has caught 20 balls for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Junior linebacker Octavio Galvez now leads the team in tackles with 58 over eight games. He had 10 against Hononegah, nine of them solos. Senior Trevor Kramp is close behind with 55, followed by Junior Nikolas Gracia with 45 and Sophomore Nick Blades with 36. Senior Jordan Jacobsen and Junior Otavio Galvez each has returned one pass interception for a touchdown.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY MARK SORRENTINO  - The Journal. Harlem football fans surround a sea of helmets during a celebration that followed the 34-31 win over Belvidere North on Sept. 25, 2015.

Harlem football fans surround a sea of helmets during a celebration that followed the 34-31 win over Belvidere North on Sept. 25, 2015.

CHRIS ANDERSON, PHOTO -  The Journal. Harlem's Brenton Shaw (21) sheds a tackler during the Huskies' loss to Jefferson on Oct. 21.

Harlem’s Brenton Shaw (21) sheds a tackler during the Huskies’ loss to Jefferson on Oct. 21.

Senior Kyle Pea has been reliable in the kicking department, converting 27-of-29 extra points and connecting on 4-of-8 field goal tries.

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