We enjoyed a lot of memorable moments on the Super Nutrition Red Zone Game of the Week this fall, but the ride that unbeaten (til the last play) Washington gave us was incredible and indelible. Great team, coaches, fan support (more cowbell!), the whole nine yards, and we rode the Panther bandwagon until it ran out of time Saturday evening at Crete, 7 miles from the Indiana border and 30 South of Chicago, in the IHSA 6A state quarterfinals.
Crete Monee, a team that’s won a 6A state football title and finished runner up within the past six years, ended the wonderful Washington run, by beating the Panthers, 35-28, in an entertaining, back-and-forth game that wasn’t decided – for the second straight week – until the last play when Washington’s hook and lateral play came up well short of the tying score as the clock struck midnight on Washington.
Below you’ll see the decisive play that essentially kept Washington out of the end zone near the end of the game with :24 seconds left and no time outs remaining. Our Tom Meredith, doing color for Tony Johnson who was out of state with Cat stuff, videotaped the Caleb Fisher to Brady Klein pass completion that took the Panthers down to about the Warriors 5 yard line. But an official flagged Washington for an offensive facemask penalty, a rare call on on offensive player and – while it may have briefly occurred – didn’t affect the play.
Nearly another miracle but this play was denied by a holding call. Two weeks in a row Crete Monee comes back from 2 TDs down in the 4th to win. End of a great season for Washington 35-28.
Posted by Tom Meredith on Saturday, November 10, 2018
The Panthers were victimized by some questionable calls the week before in their thrilling come-from-behind win over SHG, too, but overcame it. Not this time. Washington led 28-14 early in the 3rd quarter before surrendering momentum to the host Crete Monee team, which scored 21 unanswered points to take a touchdown lead in the 4th. Diminutive speedster Jamal Safo scored three of Crete’s TD’s.
Somehow, with the Warriors in the Super Nutrition Red Zone and closing in on a late score to make it a two-score game and ice the victory, Washington’s vaunted defense (sorry, didn’t see who forced or recovered) popped lose a Crete fumble inside the 10 yard line with 1:19 remaining in the game. The Panthers’ offense then quickly marched down the field toward the tying score with no timeouts. The big play was a 37-yard pass completion from cousins Caleb Fisher to Cole Ludolph. But it was not to be, as Crete earned its second straight, last-second playoff victory.
Washington’s program will say goodbye to, as I called them, “the Super Six Sophomores,” a half dozen guys who started on defense by the end of their sophomore years. That senior group went 30-7 over three seasons, some of the best football Washington’s seen. They reached the state playoff quarterfinals, semifinals and quarterfinals again. I was on the field long after the game ended at Crete when I came upon coach Darrell Crouch, his wife, daughter and injured star player and son, Will, in a tearful group hug. Imagine, DC knows this senior class not only as great players, but as friends to his son, too.
Our Super Nutrition Red Zone team, 3 of the 5 pictured above in the freezing visitor bleachers Saturday, looks forward to telling the story of the 2019 season when it begins to unfold in August. No, Washington didn’t reach the finals as Peoria High and Dunlap had done the two previous seasons, but the Panthers were in that same elite class and have the area’s respect as one of the great recent teams. Now, underclassmen, hit the weight room!