Harlem breaks state record, playoff losing streak with rout of Crystal Lake South

Matt Trowbridge
Rockford Register Star

MACHESNEY PARK — This is the football team Harlem has been building toward in the weight room for three years. Gone is record-setting passer James Cooper, Jr. In is a record-setting rushing team.

Harlem set a state Class 6A playoff record for rushing yards and had the second-best total offense output in Saturday’s 64-39 victory over Crystal Lake South. The Huskies ran for 521 yards and had 669 in total offense. Those 669 total yards would have been a record if Springfield hadn't gained 724 the night before in a 94-72 win over Rock Island.

“Wow, I am amazed we had that many yards,” said DeAndre Young, who ran for 152 yards and two TDs on only 10 carries. “Dang. I’m speechless.”

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Harlem (9-1) broke a nine-game playoff losing streak and will now play another home game next week against Lake Forest (8-2).

“We like to solve things with aggression and physicality,” Harlem coach Bob Moynihan said. “You saw in the playoffs when we were losing we weren’t as physical as the other teams. I would say we were physical tonight.”

Harlem's Zaire Sherman runs the ball against Crystal Lake South at Haarlem High School on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Machesney Park.

Adrian Palos became only the fourth NIC-10 player in history to run for 250 yards in a playoff game, going for 253 yards and four TDs on 31 carries. Zaire Sherman added 69 yards on six carries.

More:Football IQ helped Harlem's Adrian Palos become a NIC-10 football star

“I give credit to the o-line; they bullied them up front,” quarterback Austin Redmon said.

Moynihan said guard Brennon McCoy “was pancaking everyone.”

“It feels amazing to go out there and power through a team like that,” McCoy said. “We’re showing the rest of the state what we can do, strength-wise and power-wise.

“We’ve got six good running backs. They are very elusive. We’ve got lightning in a bottle and we’ve got power.”

Justin Kowalak threw for 315 yards to lead Crystal Lake South (5-5). At one point the Gators led 13-6. They also kicked 40- and 50-yard field goals. But that meant little because Harlem scored TDs on eight of its next nine drives — being stopped only when it lost a fumble.

“We are trying to change the culture here,” Palos said. “Now we just have to keep rolling.”

Power performance

A list of the NIC-10 football players with 250 yards rushing in a playoff game

Year, Player, School, Yards, Opponent

1996, Matt Beachey, Hononegah, 314, Lake Forest

2007, Patrick O’Brien, Belvidere, 292, Chicago Robeson

2011, Tyreis Thomas, Boylan, 283, Wheaton North

2021, Adrian Palos, Harlem, 253, Crystal Lake South

Matt Trowbridge: mtrowbridge@rrstar.com; @matttrowbridge