By Bob Balgemann 


Harlem’s elusive stable of running backs and wide receivers were in the spotlight Sept. 17, as the Huskies traveled to Freeport and scored an impressive 48-0 win over the host Pretzels. 

They displayed their speed while leaving Pretzel defenders in their wake, and their strength by often breaking tackles on the way to the end zone. The result was amassing a 42-0 lead at halftime. 

Also in the first half the Huskie defense and special teams combined to recover four fumbles, three of which resulted in touchdowns. 

Deandre Young had a memorable night and he set the tone for what was to come by returning the game-opening kickoff to the Freeport 22. After two running plays moved the ball to the six, Adrian Palos cruised into the end zone with 10:16 left in the first quarter. Meghan Gentry kicked her first of six extra points for the 7-0 lead. 

The Pretzels followed by fumbling the ball away on their first possession of the night. Quarterback Austin Redmon responded by throwing a 16-yard pass to Kelton Busekros that was good for a first down at the 21. A procedure penalty gummed up the works for a moment but then, on fourth down and 12 yards to go from the 23, Redmon found Young with a screen pass that was taken down the right sideline for another touchdown. Add the PAT and it was 14-0, still in the opening period. 

Harlem got the ball back late in the quarter at its own 15. One play later Young returned to center stage, grabbing a pass from Redmon and breaking two tackles along his 85-yard jouney down the left sideline for another TD. With the Gentry PAT, make it 21-0 as the period wound down. 

3 more scores 

Three more touchdowns were generated in the second quarter. 

It started with the second recovery of a Pretzel fumble, which put the ball on the Harlem 38. Six plays later Carlos Woodard Jr. picked up his third TD of the season on a six-yard gallop; Gentry kicked another extra point and it was 28-0, Harlem, with 7:44 showing on the clock. 

Fumble recovery No. 3 followed moments later, this one by Logan Lawson, deep in Freeport territory. From the 14, Palos quickly reached the 2. A false start penalty pushed the Huskies back to the seven, but Palos made up that deficiency with his next carry, running untouched into the end zone. After the PAT it was 35-0 at the 6:15 mark. 

Harlem scored its last touchdown of the half with 5.2 seconds left until intermission. It was a 72-yard drive, following a Pretzel punt, which featured a 15-yard run by Sai’viun Partee sandwiched in between four incomplete passes. From the 42, it was Redmon-to-Young one more time. He caught the ball near the right sideline, then cut across the middle to the left sideline, breaking more tackles while completing the 58-yard scoring play. 

Fumble recovery No. 4 of the first half came seconds later when the Huskies fell on a squib kick at the Freeport 35. Redmon took a knee to ring down the curtain on the highly productive two quarters of play. 

A running clock in the second half brought a quick end to the game, with Harlem adding one more touchdown before it was over while maintaining the defensive shutout. Sophomore Derek Anderson was under center for the Huskies during much of that time. 

East in town  

Rockford East will be here Friday night with sophomores playing at 5 and the varsity at 7:15. 

As was the case with this season’s earlier opponents, Jefferson, Guilford and Freeport, the E-Rabs pulled out one big upset over the past 10 years. That came in 2017 when they routed Harlem, 42-7, after the Huskies had opened the season at 2-0 with wins over Jefferson, 33-14, and Guilford, 56-14.

Harlem won all of the other games between 2011 and earlier this year, in the abbreviated 2020 season that was pushed off until the spring of 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring the Huskies ran past East, 48-8, to win the NIC-10 championship with a 6-0 record. The E-Rabs finished at 4-2, defeating Belvidere, 50-7; Guilford, 32-0; Jefferson, 86-6; and Freeport, 52-7. Their only other loss was to Boylan Catholic, 41-0. 

In 2019, Robert Moynihan’s first season as Harlem’s head coach, his Huskies rolled past East, 59-0. There have been no close games in the past 10 years.

The E-Rabs are 2-2 in the NIC-10 so far this season, having lost their most recent outing, 37-8 to the conference co-leader, Hononegah (4-0). Earlier, they lost their season opener, 14-12, to the other conference co-leader, Belvidere North, then won two in a row, 64-17 over Belvidere and 26-8 over Auburn. 

Meanwhile, Harlem has won three straight and is 3-1, tied with Boylan for second place in the NIC-10.  

State golf

After a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois High School Association (IHSA) postseason competition among fall sports teams is about to get under way. 

First up is boys golf, as Harlem is hosting a regional tournament at its home, the Atwood Homestead Golf Course in Rockford, on Sept. 29. The field includes Fox Lake Grant, McHenry, Auburn, Rockford East, Guilford, Jefferson, Hononegah and Woodstock North Co-op. Qualifiers from Harlem, suburban Prospect, Deerfield and Barrington will move on to the sectional at suburban Buffalo Grove on Oct. 4. 

The state finals will be held in October at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.  

Dates and assignments for other fall sports such as boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf and girls volleyball, have yet to be announced.

Harlem’s girls volleyball team went out of the conference Sept. 15 and lost tournament matches to suburban Downers Grove North and Lincoln-Way East, both by 2-0. The Lady Huskies are still 1-5 in the NIC-10 while dropping to 1-11 overall.  

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