By Bob Balgemann


Harlem will be at home at 7:15 Friday night for its second consecutive NIC-10 football game, after evening its 2021 record at 1-1 with a 56-22 win over Jefferson on Sept. 3.

It was an unusual game for the J-Hawks when it came to the first quarter of their first two outings.

In their season opener, the J-Hawks surrendered 41 first-period points to eventual winner Boylan Catholic in a 68-14 loss. In their second game, at Harlem, they jumped off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But that was it for the visitors, as the Huskies scored five times in the second period to lead, 35-14, at halftime.

Guilford is next for Harlem, at home, with the 0-2 Vikings having lost their first game, 20-7 to Auburn, and the next one, 30-7, to Hononegah.

Going back 10 years, the Huskies have won nine times over Guilford, losing only by 20-7 in the last game of the 2013 season. As was the case with a 42-40 setback to Jefferson in 2016, the 2013 upset by the Vikings damaged Harlem’s playoff position. The Huskies finished 6-3 and faced unbeaten Glenbard West, the top seed in 7A Division, losing, 49-14.

Otherwise, Harlem has had its way with Guilford during that span. The Huskies started with a 19-8 win in 2010 and continued with one-sided victories in each succeeding year. Most recently, in 2019, Robert Moynihan’s first season as head coach, Harlem won, 48-0.

Those teams didn’t play earlier this year, in the abbreviated 2020 season, when Guilford posted a 2-1 record. The Vikings defeated Belvidere, 20-14, and Jefferson, 30-20, while losing to Rockford East, 32-0. Harlem was the NIC-10 champion, defeating East, 48-8, in the title game.

The comeback

After a lackluster first quarter at home against Jefferson, Almarion Bell got the Huskies back on track when he ran for a 12-yard touchdown with 9:48 left in the period. The extra point kick was good and it was a 14-7 game.

Quarterback Austin Redmon threw a scoring pass to Mahari Taylor two minutes later and, with the PAT, tied it up at 14-14. The J-Hawks got the ball back but their possession didn’t last long. Harlem’s Adrian Palos showed his prowess on defense when he intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown less than one minute later, at the 7:19 mark. That gave the Huskies a 21-14 lead and they didn’t look back.

Before halftime, Palos moved over to offense and broke one tackle while running 13 yards for a touchdown 4:45 before halftime. Then, with 1:57 to go, Bell added his second TD of the night for the three-touchdown intermission lead. He first ran 26 yards, to set up his scoring run from the J-Hawk 20.

Harlem’s special teams got a boost from Taylor, when he ran the third quarter kickoff back for a touchdown to up the difference to 42-14. The Huskies added two more scores the rest of the way, one of them a 17-yard run by Carlos Woodard Jr., for the 56-22 final.

After being held to 23 yards rushing in the opening 14-6 loss to Hononegah, Harlem came back against Jefferson by amassing 239 yards on the ground.

In the preliminary game with the J-Hawks, Harlem’s sophomores won, 46-14, with a 51-yard touchdown run wrapping up scoring in that one.

And earlier, in seventh-grade football, Harlem defeated Rockford West, 30-8.

Other results

The boys golf team got its season under way with a nail biter against Belvidere, winning 189 to 191. Mason Martin led the Huskies with a nine-hole round of 41 followed by a pair of 48s from Caden Cline and Hayden Henderson. Nathan Paganucci shot 52; with 65s being carded by Grant Reddington and Brayland Carpenter.

At the junior varsity level, Belvidere edged Harlem, 245-249. For the Huskies, Jack Erickson shot a 60, with 63s being recorded by Andrew Bell, Adam Fairbanks and Fabian Seyller.

Harlem’s girls volleyball team continued in search of its first win, dropping a couple of three-game encounters.

Belvidere (2-2) won, 13-25, 25-16 and 25-18, while Auburn was victorious, 18-25, 25-23, 17-25. The Lady Huskies won the junior varsity match, 2 games to 0, while the Lady Knights took the freshman side, 2-0.

Belvidere North continues atop the volleyball standings with a 4-0 record. Boylan Catholic and Hononegah are close behind, at 3-1; Guilford is 2-1 and Belvidere, 2-2.

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