By Jim Beers, Contributing Writer
CHESTER — Early last week Chester High School Athletic Director Bryce Bainter was informed by Dupo that they would have to forfeit the game at Chester on Homecoming Night due to Covid-19 complications.
The 2021 CHS Homecoming King was crowned during pre-game ceremonies of the CHS vs Decatur St. Teresa game. Pictured (left to right) are: Eric Cowell, Senior Candidate; Kailyn Absher, Escort; Paige Vasquez, Escort; Junior Noah Wetzel, King Runner-Up; Gage Garniss, Retiring King; Amelia Shemonic, Retiring Queen; 2021 CHS King, Brock Vasquez; Alex Hennerich, Escort; Chance Mott, Junior Candidate; Emma Eggemeyer, Escort; Cooper Eggemeyer, Senior Candidate; and Hannah Blechle, Escort. Jim Beers Photo
Not wanting to have to cancel Chester’s Homecoming game, Bainter immediately hit the phone lines to locate a team to play Friday October 8 at W.O. Smith Field. Bainter said,
“The first team to reply was Decatur St. Teresa. The Bulldogs were ranked the No. 1 team in IHSA Class 2A.”
The 2021 CHS Cheer Squad performs at Pre-Game ceremonies at Homecoming 2021. Jim Beers Photo
“We booked the game and proceeded with Homecoming weekend festivities. Almost immediately after we sealed the agreement with St. Teresa, we got a call from another team that wanted to play us, but rather than cancel on St. Teresa, we decided to keep the agreement with the Bulldogs and play the highest ranked team in the State of Illinois in Class 2A.”
Head Coach Mark Ramsey said before the game, “We had a long four-and-a-half hour trip down here and we couldn’t manage to get charter busses, so it wasn’t a great ride on school busses.”
The CHS Marching Yellow Jacket Band under the direction of Steve Colonel performs for the Queen Coronation at halftime of the CHS vs Decatur St. Teresa game October 8th. Jim Beers Photo
“This is actually our second long trip down to this area because we had to travel to Belleville a few weeks ago to play Belleville Althoff. Both trips were necessitated by Covid cancellations. We are happy to be here though and glad to be able to play Chester.”
It was Homecoming weekend and a large crowd was on hand to support the YellowJackets. Most Jacket fans expressed a positive outlook about being able to host the No. 1 team in the State of Illinois in Class 2A, even though they were also the biggest school in Class 2A.
The 2021 Chester YellowJackets take the field Friday October 8 in the Homecoming game vs Decatur St. Teresa. Jim Beers Photo
Chester received the opening kickoff and faced the Bulldogs with confidence. The Jackets played like a top-ranked team in the opening five minutes of the game getting two first downs and moving the ball well.
St. Teresa, on the other hand had back-to-back penalties early, one for pass interference and the next for encroachment, to help Chester get off to a good start and move the ball.
The Jackets then hit a bump in the road and had to punt after a two-yard loss by quarterback Ethan Stump, a one-yard loss by Jordan Merideth on a run, and a failed pass from Stumpe to Merideth.
CHS senior quarterback Ethan Stumpe throw’s a pass to Joran Merideth at the 8:11 mark of the first quarter against Decatur St. Teresa. For the game Stumpe threw for 88 yards and one touchdown. Jim Beers Photo
Facing 4-and-11 at the 7:32 mark, Chester was forced to punt. The Bulldogs fumbled the ball on the attempted return and Chester’s Jacob Cowell recovered the ball on the 3-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage Jordan Merideth scored on a 3-yard run and Chester drew first blood with a 6-0 lead. Jared Landeros kicked the extra point and the Jackets led, 7-0 at the 7:05 mark.
St. Teresa started on the 33 yard line after the kickoff at the 6:45 mark. Just 7 plays later Bulldog Denim Cook, a 5’10”, lb. running back phenomenon, took the ball 7-yards for a Bulldog touchdown. The extra point kick was good and the score was tied, 7-0 with 5:10 to play in the first quarter.
On the kickoff it appeared as if the YellowJackets would respond well when Aiden Jany took the kickoff and made his way to about the 45 yard line on a great return. Before the celebration ended, the sound of referee whistles could be heard and Jany’s excellent return was called back due to a YellowJacket penalty of blocking in the back.”
The 15-yard penalty put the ball on the 10-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, an Ethan Stumpe pass was intercepted by Decatur’s Griffin Smith, a 5’10” defensive back. Smith ran the ball all the way to the Chester 4-yard line. On the next play, Denim Cook scored his second of five touchdowns. The Jacket defense blocked the extra-point kick attempt and St. Teresa took the led, 13-7 with 4:32 remaining in the 1st quarter.
On the kickoff Chester’s Freddie Alvarez returned the ball to the 33 yard line once again. Isaac Jany ran the ball for 4-yards and Ethan Stumpe ran a quarterback keeper for a first down. The Jackets moved the ball 13 more yards before being forced to punt the ball at the 2:38 mark.
The Bulldogs started their possession on the 29 yard line. Cook ran 8-yards on the first play from scrimmage, but the Chester defense put a halt to the Bulldog advances when Isaac Jany tackled Brycen Hendrix for a loss and CHS defended two passes. With 26-seconds remaining in the first period, Decatur faced 4-and-11 and were forced to punt.
Jordan Merideth took the punt and ran it to the 31 yard line. With a 1stand 10 and 14.9-seconds left to play, Chester was called for a delay of game penalty. Facing 1 and 15, Dylan Kelkhoff carried the ball and fumbled. St. Teresa recovered the ball as time ran out to end the first quarter. The Bulldogs led the Jackets, 13-7.
Chester’s Jordan Merideth (1) hurdles Decatur St. Teresa defenders Tyriq Cole (22), Griffin Smith (6) and Matt Brummer (42) in the game against the Bulldogs Friday October 8. In the game Merideth recorded 36 yards on 10 attempts with one touchdown. Merideth also had for receptions for a total of 32 yards and one touchdown. Jim Beers Photo
The first quarter was very competitive with Chester leading, 7-0 and St. Teresa tying the game, 7-7 at the 5:10 mark. Chester threw an interception which would allow St. Teresa to take the lead, 13-7 less than two minutes later, and a Jacket fumble would give Decatur the ball to begin the second quarter.
The Bulldogs broke loose from their leashes and scored all three of their possessions in the second quarter. The Jackets, on the other hand, had a pass intercepted on their first possession and were held to a punt on their second and failed to score on their third possession to end the half.
To start the second quarter St. Teresa had the ball on the 23 yard line facing 2-8. On the first play of the quarter Denim Cook ran for a touchdown and the Bulldogs threw a pass for two extra points. St. Teresa extended their lead to 21-7 less than a minute into the period.
Chester’s Jordan Merideth ran for 6-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Aiden Jany ran the ball facing 2-4, but CHS was called for holding and the Jackets then faced 2-12. Ethan Stumpe ran the ball on a quarterback keeper gaining 5-yards. With the Jackets facing 3-7, Stumpe threw a pass which was intercepted by Decatur’s Tyriq Cole.
St. Teresa took over at the 35 yard line following a 20-yard sprint. Jordan Merideth stopped that run. On the next play Decatur’s Cook ran for a 1st down before being brought down by Chester’s Freddie Alvarez and Aiden Jany. On the third play Cook scored from 8-yards out to extend the Bulldog lead to 27-7. The extra point kick was good to extend the lead to 28-7 with 9:14 remaining in the half.
On Chester’s next possession the Jackets were held to three downs and out. They were forced to punt facing 4-6 at the 7:10 mark.
Decatur’s Cayden Wilkins ran for 8-yards on the Bulldog’s first play. Cook got the first down on the next play. A 33-yard pass to Zakhi Hayes got the Dogs to the 16 yard line with 5:36 remaining in the half.
On the fifth play of the possession Thomas Pokrzywinski scored from 6-yards out for the Bulldog’s 5th touchdown. Chester blocked the extra point kick. St. Teresa led, 34-7 at the 4:28 mark.
On the YellowJacket’s third possession, Merideth returned the ball to the 34 yard line. Cooper Eggemeyer caught a 7-yard pass to start things off. On the next play, Jordan Merideth just missed a long Ethan Stumpe pass. Facing 3-3, Freddie Alvarez caught a pass for a Chester 1st and 10 with 3:00 to play in the half.
On the next play, Merideth had a pass right in his hands with open field ahead of him, but he mishandled the ball for an incomplete pass. With 1:46 remaining, Chester was called for an illegal motion penalty. The Jackets could not score as time ran out in the first half. St. Teresa led, 34-7 at halftime.
Decatur received the ball to start the second half. The Bulldogs earned three first and tens in-a-row after which Zakhi Hayes caught a 14-yard pass to score the 6th Bulldog touchdown of the game. The kick missed for the extra point. St. Teresa led, 40-7 just 1:30 into the second half.
Chester’s Aiden Jany returned the kickoff the 40 yard line. Dylan Kelkhoff ran for six yards and Jordan Merideth ran for the first down. After thee unsuccessful plays, Stumpe faced 4-9. Expecting a Chester punt, Stumpe fooled everyone and completed an 18-yard pass to Isaac Jany.
With the ball on the St. Teresa 43 yard line and 7:20 remaining in the 3rd quarter, the Jackets failed on two plays. Facing 3-8 Stumpe dropped back and under pressure, ran the ball. On the tackle, his ankle was twisted and he came out of the game, but on his own power.
Dylan Kelkhoff came into the game to take over for Stumpe at quarterback. On his first play from scrimmage Kelkhoff was thrown for a 14-yard loss. With 5:06 to play in the third period facing 3-6, Kelkhoff hit Jordan Merideth with a 34-yard touchdown pass and Jared Landeros kicked his second extra point of the evening. Chester pulled within 26 points, 40-14.
With 5:06 to play in the 3rd quarter St. Teresa ran seven plays before scoring their 7th touchdown on a 4-yard Denim Cook scamper into the end zone. The kick was good and the Bulldogs extended their lead to 47-14, to close out the quarter.
In the 4th quarter Chester had to punt facing 4-15, with 11:45 remaining in the game. St. Teresa’s Christion Harper took the punt and ran it back 85 yards for the Bulldog’s 8th and final touchdown of the game. The kick was good and St. Teresa led, 54-14, with 11:05 to play.
With the 40 point Decatur lead there was a continuous clock the rest of the game. Chester had to punt at the 9:30 mark and St. Teresa moved the ball down to the 6-yard line with a little more than 2:00 to play. The Bulldogs showed a great deal of class and held the ball the final two minutes to avoid running up the score with another touchdown.
In the loss St. Teresa led 13-7 after one quarter, 34-7 at halftime, 47-7 after three quarters and 54-14 at the end of the game.
Chester ran 56 plays and St. Teresa ran 50. The Bulldogs accumulated a total of 455 yards, 105 passing and 350 on the ground. CHS had 154 yards, 88 passing and 66 on the ground. St. Teresa recorded 21 first downs vs Chester’s 10.
Penalties and turnovers really hurt the YellowJackets in the loss. CHS committed three turnovers, one fumble and two interceptions. Decatur had just one turnover, a fumble. CHS committed six penalties for 36 yards while St. Teresa committed three for 45 yards.
Coach Billy Belton said, “We saw lots of good things in this game and learned a lot that we have to clean up for the rest of the season. First of all we can’t turn the ball over three times, and we can’t afford to commit so many penalties.”
“I am very proud of our effort! The boys showed a lot of energy. They drove the ball and executed well. We just didn’t finish several times and that hurt us. The good thing is that it isn’t the end of the season. We will work to make corrections and we will learn what we have to do the finish the rest of the season strong.”
St. Teresa is a great team. They flew to the ball and had great athletes. Only two teams have scored on them this year and we are one of them. We even scored twice. I am proud of the boys! Their Denim Cook is a big, fast quality athlete. He is a speed running back and he can create yardage with his athleticism.”
“It was a classy thing that the entire Bulldog team did when they let the clock run out the final two minutes. They were on the 6-yard line and could have scored again. They elected not to run the score up.”
“Then, after the game, each Bulldog player walked all the way across the field and came to wish Ethan Stumpe well regarding his injury. That was another classy move on their part!”
Regarding the rest of the season, Belton said, “Red Bud is an improved team. They have won several games as of late and they will be looking to make a statement. We need to improve and fix our mistakes from this week and we should be alright.
“The Musketeers will be ready to play us. It will really be a neat atmosphere because many of our boys played alongside their boys in Musket Football and then against them once Chester got a league. We look forward to this game. A win will also guarantee us a playoff spot, so that is an added incentive.”