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Chester football, Week 7: St. Teresa mauls Yellow Jackets on Homecoming weekend

  • Chester's Jordan Merideth (1) hurdles Decatur St. Teresa defenders Tyriq Cole (22), Griffin Smith (6) and Matt Brummer (42) on Oct. 8. Merideth recorded 36 yards on 10 attempts with one touchdown.

    Chester's Jordan Merideth (1) hurdles Decatur St. Teresa defenders Tyriq Cole (22), Griffin Smith (6) and Matt Brummer (42) on Oct. 8. Merideth recorded 36 yards on 10 attempts with one touchdown.
    Jim Beers photo

By Jim Beers
Contributing writer
updated: 10/15/2021 7:12 PM

Maybe it was the long bus ride that got the Decatur St. Teresa Bulldogs so cranky. Or maybe they just lived up to their hype as the top-rated team in the IHSA Class 2A.

Either way, when it was all over last Friday the Chester Yellow Jackets had their hats handed to them, 54-14. On Homecoming, no less.

Decatur St. Teresa was a last-minute replacement for Dupo, which was felled by COVID-19 midweek. Not wanting to cancel the Homecoming game, Chester High School Athletic Director Bryce Bainter burned up the phone lines looking for a replacement opponent. The first team to get back to him with a "yes," was Decatur St. Teresa.

"We booked the game and proceeded with Homecoming weekend festivities," Bainter said. Almost immediately another team called, but Chester did the classy thing and stuck with St. Teresa, knowing full well they were about to play the top-ranked team in Class 2A.

Meanwhile, the agreement came so late in the week that St. Teresa couldn't find charter buses to bring them to Chester and had to settle for 4 hours on school buses.

"It wasn't a great ride," admitted Bulldog Head Coach Mark Ramsey before the game. And the Bulldogs looked out of sorts at the start, getting back-to-back penalties and giving Chester a chance to move the ball well on the opening drive.

The Jackets' drive eventually stalled. But the Bulldogs fumbled the punt, which led to a Jacob Cowell recovery on the 3-yard line. Jordan Merideth ran it in and with a Jared Landeros extra point kick, the Jackets led 7-0.

St. Teresa answered with their running back phenom, Denim Cook, who took the ball for seven yards and a Bulldog TD. The extra point kick was good and the score was 7-7.

A great Aiden Jany runback on the kickoff was called back on a Chester blocking in the back penalty. Now on their own 10-yard line, Chester quarterback Ethan Stumpe threw up a pass that was intercepted by Decatur's Griffin Smith, who 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 lead, 13-7.

The teams traded punts and quarter ended without more scoring.

In the second quarter the Bulldogs broke loose from their leashes and scored on all three of their possessions. Less than a minute into the new quarter, the Bulldogs' Denim Cook ran for a touchdown and the Bulldogs converted for two. The score was 21-7.

On Chester's next drive Stumpe was intercepted by Decatur's Tyriq Cole. Cook scored from 8 yards out and the St. Teresa kicker made it 28-7.

Chester's next possession ended in a punt, which the Bulldogs marched down the field. On the fifth play of the possession Thomas Pokrzywinski scored from 6 yards out for St. Teresa's fifth touchdown. Chester blocked the extra point and were down 34-7 at the half.

Decatur received the ball to start the second half and got three first downs before Zakhi Hayes caught a 14-yard pass to score the sixth Bulldog touchdown of the game. The kick missed and the score was 40-7.

On Chester's next series, facing 4th and 9 Stumpe fooled everyone by not punting, and instead completed an 18-yard pass to Isaac Jany.

Then, disaster struck. Facing 3rd and 8, Stumpe dropped back and under pressure, ran the ball. On the tackle, his ankle twisted and he came out of the game, but on his own power.

Dylan Kelkhoff ran the rest of the game for the Yellow Jackets, including a 34-yard TD pass to Jordan Merideth. Jared Landeros kicked his second extra point of the evening and Chester was down 40-14.

St. Teresa's seventh TD was a 4-yard Denim Cook scamper into the end zone. Their eighth and final score was a punt run back 85 yards by Christion Harper.

After the game, Chester Coach Billy Belton gave Decatur St. Teresa their due.

"St. Teresa is a great team," he said. "They flew to the ball. Denim Cook is a big, fast quality athlete. He is a speed running back and he can create yardage with his athleticism."

Belton said the Bulldogs showed class when they let the clock run out the final two minutes. "They were on the 6-yard line and could have scored again (but) they elected not to run the score up," he said.

"Then, after the game, each Bulldog player walked all the way across the field to wish Ethan Stumpe well regarding his injury."

Despite the lopsided loss, Belton said he saw lots of good moments in the game for the Jackets. He pointed out that only two teams have scored on St. Teresa this season, and the Jackets are one of them. "We even scored on them twice," he said.

"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."