Taking care of business: Blue Devils open Class 7A playoffs with resounding victory over Wildcats

QHS playoff 1

Quincy High School cornerback Rico Clay, second from left, and his teammates react to his hit on West Chicago's Louis Zeitler during the first half of the Blue Devils' 44-14 victory in the Class 7A playoffs Saturday at Flinn Stadium. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The one thing the Quincy High School football team couldn’t do was get caught expecting to win instead of playing to win.

“Monday, when we watched film, we talked about that,” senior offensive lineman Chris Flachs said. “We knew we were better than (West Chicago). You can say that as much as you want, but you have to come out and prove it. We showed we have what it takes to come out and prove we belong here.”

It didn’t take long.

Adon Byquist returned the game’s opening kickoff for an apparent touchdown, only to have the play nullified by a holding penalty. No problem, the Blue Devils used the next two plays to cover 70 yards and score 39 seconds into the game.

“When we start fast, there isn’t anybody who is going to stop us,” QHS junior wide receiver Tykell Hammers said.

West Chicago couldn’t. Third-seeded Quincy led 35-0 at halftime, invoked the running clock in the second half and rolled to a 44-14 victory in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs Saturday afternoon at Flinn Stadium.

“It was a statement that we’re not a team that can be taken lightly,” Hammers said. “You really have to pay attention to us or something is going to happen.”

Something significant happened.

The whitewashing marked the first home playoff victory in QHS history and just the third playoff victory overall. The Blue Devils also reached the 10-victory plateau for the first time ever and earned a second-round playoff date with 19th-seeded Wheaton North.

The Falcons (7-3) beat 14th-seeded Chicago Whitney Young 34-0 on Friday night and will play host to the Blue Devils (10-0) next weekend. Date and time are still to be determined.

“That’s a long road,” Hammers said of the 300-mile trip. “Long road.”

The distance doesn’t intimidate or worry the Blue Devils.

“Our team chemistry is unmatched,” Hammers said. “Playing with each other anywhere, anyhow isn’t going to be a problem. We stick together.”

Together, the Blue Devils didn’t allow West Chicago to do hardly anything the first three quarters.

The Wildcats, who were making their first playoff appearance since 2002, didn’t reach the red zone until the fourth quarter and were limited to a little more than 100 yards the first three quarters. Overall, West Chicago finished with 205 total yards, 194 on the ground.

“When you’re not getting first downs and you’re not getting the ball in the red zone, it makes it really tough,” QHS coach Rick Little said. “That’s a credit to our whole defense.”

At the same time, the Blue Devils scored at will.

Jack Mettemeyer caught a 33-yard scoring pass on the game’s second play before Hammers caught 27- and 20-yard touchdown passes from junior quarterback Bradyn Little for a 21-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.

Jeraius Rice Jr. scored on a 25-yard run and Hammers added a 1-yard touchdown reception for a 35-0 halftime lead.

“Once you get into the playoffs, everybody is from different conferences and different places,” Bradyn Little said. “Every team you play is a better team. So it was important for us to show our dominance.”

Hammers’ fourth TD reception — a 40-yarder midway through the third quarter — made it a 42-0 lead, started the running clock and allowed the Blue Devils to put the starters on the sidelines for the entire fourth quarter.

Bradyn Little completed 20 of 28 passes for 326 yards and five touchdowns, while Hammers caught nine passes for 119 yards and Rice ran the ball just 10 times for 119 yards.

Although the Blue Devils were aware Wheaton North won Friday night, they suppressed any thoughts of the second-round matchup until the first-round matchup was complete. They didn’t want to get caught looking ahead.

“I want them to be comfortable, but I never want them to be too comfortable,” Rick Little said. “There always has to be an edge. There always has to be something that has you a little out of sorts or ticked off. I want them to enjoy the moment, but I also want them wanting more.”

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