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There was just too much “Mooseheart” on Saturday for visiting River Valley to handle. The host Ramblers were too fast, too defensively aggressive, had too many good runners and have built too much momentum over in the middle third of the season for the visiting Falcons.
Playing on its 2017 homecoming contest, Mooseheart opened a 37-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised to a 58-0 victory. The win runs the Ramblers’ win streak to four games, leaves the team 4-2 and keeps them on-course for a return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
“Our guys showed up ready to go to get our fourth win,” Mooseheart coach Jacob Pekofske said. “When you get guys who buy into what you’re trying to do, it can build up within the team, and winning always helps that.”
While River Valley (1-5) struggled to get its offense rolling in the fourth quarter, every time the Ramblers touched the ball, they scored.
In the first quarter alone: Nelson Doe scored on a 63-yard run; Nick Rempert caught a 55-yard pass from Joel Williams; Doe ran in from 14 yards; Doe ran in again from 14 yards; the Ramblers tackled a Falcons runner in the end zone for a safety and Oliver Wah scored from 41 yards.
Doe finished with four touchdowns in the contest and Wah added a further two scores.
“This is a whole different mindset this year,” Doe said. “We believe in ourselves and that we can accomplish anything we want.”
Both Doe and Wah are juniors, as is Rempert, who caught touchdown passes from Williams in the contest. Williams is a sophomore on a team that is loaded with players who will return for at least one more season of varsity football.
“We just try to find open space and get down field as quickly as we can,” Wah said.
After being outscored 86-0 in losses in the first two weeks of the season, Mooseheart has decisively turned the corner. Through the win streak, they have outscored their opposition 213-20. In Saturday’s contest, the Ramblers forced four fumbles and intercepted a pass while only turning over the ball once.
Homecoming at Mooseheart is a special occasion, with Moose from many states coming to the campus that their Fraternity memberships and financial donations make possible. Those Moose members join with returning alumni to create an atmosphere unique in Illinois high school football.
“It feels great to have all the Moose members from all the different places they traveled from who came to watch us. They came to see what Mooseheart Red Ramblers football is all about. We’re about hitting hard and scoring touchdowns, so I’m glad we did that in front of the them today,” Wah said.
Mooseheart originally had a bye in the seventh week of the schedule, but that gap has been filled. The Ramblers head to Lena-Winslow on Friday to face the top-ranked Class 1A football school in Illinois. The Panthers (6-0) have made the playoffs 18 straight seasons and are already guaranteed a spot in this year’s postseason.
“I’ve always said to the kids that if you want to be the best, you’ve got to be able to beat the best. They’re definitely the best that we’re going to face,” Pekofske said.