Huskies seek that elusive NIC-10 title

High School Football

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –The Harlem Huskies have been known in football for having a lot of good teams and a lot of great players. What they haven’t been known for is winning conference championships. They’ll try to change that Friday night when they play East for this year’s championship.

One win is all that stands between the Huskies and the school’s first conference championship since 1997.

“It’s crazy,” said Harlem linebacker Adrian Palos. “I think most of us didn’t really know it had been that long until this year, and we even looked what was the year that they went undefeated and won conference which that hasn’t happened.”

He’s right. Harlem has never gone undefeated while winning a conference championship. The last Harlem team to go undefeated was the 1945 team. It went 2-0 in a brief season.  A 6-0 season this year sounds big in comparison.

“Everything we’ve done in the offseason has prepared them for this. That’s the whole key right there,” said Harlem head coach Bob Moynihan.

The Huskies haven’t had an easy road stacking together their five wins, not the last three of them anyway. They had to rally from behind to post a two-point win at Belvidere North. They came from behind in a two-point win against Hononegah, and last week they again rallied for a one-point win against Prairie Ridge, but those tight games have helped prepare them for what they could potentially experience against East.

“Oh for sure,” said Palos. “I mean the last few games we were down at one point in the game and I think we came together as a team and we ended up pulling it out, so I think that really puts us in a better place to play a game like this.”

“Each week we made some mistakes on both sides of the ball that we had to recover from each game and each game we did that,” said Moynihan. “That’s the key. The biggest thing I would say from the people that have been around here a long time they said the biggest difference is typically our team might have given up in the past. (Now) They’re not doing that.”

The way James Cooper Jr. and his receiving corps have been putting up points the Huskies know they’re never out of a game no matter what the score is.  Against East the bigger question is can the defense stop East’s dynamic run game?  Last week against Prairie Ridge the Huskies gave up 377 yards rushing.

“We all want to talk about the Prairie Ridge game,” said Moynihan, “But again we prepared an hour (for that game) and everyone wants to talk about that. That’s great. They don’t want to talk about the other weeks when we’ve held teams to negative yards running, so we’ll see which defense shows up.”

Kickoff Friday at Swanson Stadium in Rockford will be at 7 p.m. Catch the highlights on ‘Overtime’ Friday night at 11 p.m. live on Fox 39.

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