FULTON, Ill. — Senior Night was a success for the Steamers, Friday, as they rolled past the visiting Clippers in a 37-13 win. After the game, several players described the air of determination the seniors had to leave everything on the field for their final home game as Steamers.
“We have a philosophy and it’s ‘Play loose; play relaxed but play ready to go,’ ” said senior Jake Wilging.
The win over Amboy/LaMoille ended an 11-year drought for the Steamers, something that was in the back of their heads all game long.
“It feels absolutely amazing with it being after 11 years," senior Bryce Holesinger said. "That’s the best part.”
Led by a strong core of seniors on both sides of the ball the Steamers asserted themselves early with strong tackling defending against the Clippers on their first offensive series, then forcing the turnover with their suffocating pass coverage. Seniors Paul Velasco and Wilging led both lines, throwing their weight around and moving Amboy’s lines where they wanted and needed for most of the night.
Velasco started off with a handful of key tackles for losses. In the second quarter Wilging got into the action getting a sack on the Amboy quarterback Liam Ohlendorf. That energy spread to the rest of the Steamers on the front lines as Conor Hugunin, Justin Shaffer and Tristin Huisingh helped keep the pressure on Amboy’s offensive line and quarterback.
Fulton’s pass coverage, anchored by veteran seniors Bryce Holesinger, Devin Kuehl and Kody Crosthwaite, outmatched the opponent for the third week in a row forcing turnovers and inconsistency from Amboy as it had against Riverdale and Princeton.
“I had 100 percent faith in my team that they would come out and play 100 percent, but they came out and played 150 percent,” Holesinger said. “That’s the best defensive game I’ve seen our coverage play all year long.”
The oppressive combination on defense yielded to three Fulton interceptions, two coming in the first half by Holesinger. Fulton turned the first one into seven points on Ethan Jones' 22-yard touchdown pass to Jason Osbourne. Osbourne showed some moves getting around three defenders on his way to the end zone.
“There was three guys right there, one guy fell, one guy wrapped my legs up, I saw the end zone, reached across and tried to get it in,” Osbourne said.
Holesinger’s second interception was a bit more of a challenge to come down jumping through traffic in front of the intended receiver and snatching it away from Amboy. The Steamers followed up with another Jones-to-Osbourne connection to the end zone — a fade route towards the sideline putting Fulton up 21-6 in the second quarter.
The third interception was tipped by Austin Regenwether into the hands of Devin Kuehl, and like the two previous picks the Steamers turned it into a touchdown on the resulting drive.
“They focused in. If we had a bad play or they had a good drive, we just flushed it and came back out and did our job," Holesinger said. "They came back from a scoring drive and Austin tipped it to Devin and Devin almost took it to the house.”
The other three touchdowns on the night for the Steamers came from their workhorse running back Regenwether who racked up 79 yards in the game. The yardage put Regenwether over 1,000 yard mark for the season, a feat his teammates were in awe of.
“This week we were just set out to make sure we had the ball on offense. We were going to get Regenwether his 1,000 yards, he got his 1,000 yards,” Holesinger said.
The offensive line was aware of the feat before it happened doing everything it could for Regenwether, clearing up gaps so he could reach the milestone.
“Austin went over 1,000 (yards) tonight," Wilging said. "That was one of our goals and we got him there. That’s something we’re all proud of, especially up front.”
The last points the Steamers scored on the night were a gift from the Clippers. A defensive stop had Amboy punting deep in its own territory with punter Canaan Ross on the 5-yard line. A high snap slipped through his fingers and into the end zone. Ross recovered the ball but by the time he had possession, Wilging was bearing down on him like leaving Ross with no other option than to just fall on the ball.
Wilging slowed up and went to celebrate with his teammates when he saw Ross wasn’t going anywhere.
Amboy was able to squeeze 13 points out of the Steamer defense scoring its last touchdown of the night with 5 seconds to spare in the game. Running backs Chris Jones and Caleb Morris led the final drive for the Clippers each getting a first down after starting at midfield. Morris finished up the drive in the final seconds of the game with a 2 yard carry up the middle.
With enough time left for one last kickoff the Steamers took a knee and celebrated their Senior Night win.
Fulton will finish up their season against Bureau Valley next Friday with their hopes of getting in the playoffs still alive.
FULTON 37, AMBOY/LAMOILLE
Amboy/LaMoille 0 6 0 7 — 13
Fulton 14 7 16 0 — 37
F — Osbourne 22 pass from Jones (Velasco kick), 4:33
F — Regenwether 4 run (Velasco kick), 2:10
A — Quest 8 pass from Ohlendorf (conversion failed), 10:01
F — Osbourne 6 pass from Jones (Velasco kick), 7:48
F — Regenwether 16 run (Velasco kick), 9:02
F — Regenwether 5 run (Velasco kick), 3:49
F — Safety, bad snap to punter
A — Morris 2 run (Ross kick), 0:05
RUSHING — Amboy, Bontz 15-34, Quest 1-2, Ohlendorf 6-13, Jones, 7-36, Benhoff 5-23, Morris 5-26; Fulton, Regenwether 20-79, Kuehl 7-28, Jones 9-83, Smith 2-7
PASSING — Amboy, Ohlendorf 5-10-3-83; Fulton, Jones 5-8-0-84.
RECEIVING — Amboy, Quest 4-81, Bontz 1-2; Fulton, Osbourne 4-44, North 1-40.