Nazareth senior Quentrell Harris powers past Marmion’s Joseph Gordan (50) and Kevin Roche Jr. Harris scored one touchdown in the Roadrunners’ 23-14 victory. Photo by Steve Metsch
High School Football Class 5A Playoffs: Nazareth advances to quarterfinals with win over Marmion
By Steve Metsch
Powered by faith and trust — two words heard often after a hard-fought victory over Marmion — there’s no telling how far Nazareth can go in the Class 5A playoffs.
The Roadrunners (7-4) advanced to the quarterfinals with a 23-14 victory over the Cadets on Nov. 5 in the second round on Nov. 5. They will face Fenwick (9-2) this weekend in LaGrange Park, with the victor to battle Sycamore or St Patrick in the semifinals.
Nazareth has won seven of eight games since beginning the season with three consecutive losses. That last defeat, 28-14 in Week 3 to a Marist team that has since advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals, showed Racki his team has a lot of spirit.
The game with Marmion was tense, but Nazareth coach Tim Racki has faith in a team that has rallied to find itself three wins wins from another state championship.
Racki has faith in and trusts freshman quarterback, Logan Malachuk, who made his first start in the Marist game in Week 3. Malachuk has thrown 16 touchdown passes.
Malachuk trusted junior wide receiver Justin Tayor to catch a 41-yard pass on a fourth-down play for a key touchdown.
Taylor said he knew he had the defensive back beat on the play.
“Tough it out. It felt good knowing I sparked the team,” Taylor said. “I have a lot of faith in Logan. He’s very poised, everything you want in a quarterback.”
Add senior kicker Ryan Short to the list of believers.
“I trusted my alignment, my guys up front, my holder and my snapper,” Short said of his successful 21-yard field-goal attempt with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter that put The Roadrunners ahead to stay, 17-14. That winning boot came after he missed on a 37-yard kick in the second quarter.
With his team at the 4-yard line, Racki admitted he wanted to score a touchdown.
“(During the time out) assistant coach Joe Reynolds talked me out of it,” Racki said. “He’s a lot smarter than me.”
Senior wide receiver-defensive back Quentrell Harris made multiple big plays. Harris rant the opening kickoff back to the Marmon 1 yard line and his 5-yard touchdown run put Nazareth up 14-7 at 7:27 of the third quarter. His most impactful play was an interception.
Trailing 7-0, Harris picked off a wobbly pass into the wind from senior quarterback Daniel Chung to give Nazareth the ball at its own 41 with 2:11 left in the first half. Harris said he knows the tendencies of Chung and intended receiver Dane Pardridge after playing 7-on-7 football with them in the summer.
“I’ve gone against [Chung] multiple times,” Harris said. “I just tried to stay in [Pardridge’s] hip pocket.”
On the ensuing drive, the Roadrunners’ faced a fourth-and-6 at Marmion’s 41-yard line with 32 seconds left in the first half when Malachuk heaved the ball down the middle. Taylor caught it near the 5 and fought past two defenders into the end-zone to tie the game, 7-7.
“I trusted Justin,” Malachuk said. “We’ve been working all season on that. I just let it fly. He was there to get it. It’s all about trust.”
Taylor has played four years on varsity. “His football IQ is off the charts,” Racki said.
Taylor added a 4-yard TD run with 1:58 left to play.
Harris smiled when asked how far Nazareth can go.
“It’s a mindset,” Harris said. “Some people thought this was a rebuilding year, that we’d give up. We just trust our brothers, trust our coaches and we got better week by week, including this week.”