PEORIA -- Whenever the Alleman Pioneers needed something on offense on Friday night, quarterback John Tracey delivered.|
Making perfect reads and decisions all night, Tracey was at his best when the Pioneers needed him most. Tracey accounted for all six touchdowns as Alleman -- ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 4A poll -- earned a 41-26 victory over Peoria Richwoods at Richwoods Stadium.
Tracey ran 21 times for 163 yards and four touchdowns. Better yet, the lengthy veteran completed 8 of his 11 pass attempts for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
"Fantastic. He played great," said Alleman senior Adam Hoogerwerf, who caught both touchdown passes. "When something was there, he pitched it. When it wasn't, he held on. He made really smart decisions with the ball. That's what we needed from the quarterback in a game like this."
Other than a fumble on an errant second-quarter pitch and an interception late in the first half, Tracey was in control. He engineered quick-strike scores in the first half as the Pioneers (3-0) led 21-14 at intermission. In the second half, Alleman held off a late rally by Richwoods (1-2), with Tracey orchestrating time-consuming drives in the last two quarters.
On the game-sealing, 14-play drive in the fourth quarter, he completed a third-down pass and ran 28 yards on a 3rd-and-7 play to set up the game's final score.
"He made a ton of good decisions," Alleman coach Dave DeJaegher said. "We put a lot of pressure on our quarterbacks in our system to make good decisions. John made a ton of them."
Doing that was easy.
"The guys up front did their jobs well," Tracey said. "They did an amazing job. The holes were huge everywhere we went the whole night. None of that could've been done without them."
As Tracey put it, everyone on the Alleman sideline did their jobs.
The offensive line allowed two plays to go for negative yards. Tom Noe had 50 rushing yards and Sean Wetherell added 34. Hoogerwerf completed a 23-yard pass to Wetherell and added a game-high 146 receiving yards.
"A total team effort," DeJaegher said. "A great team effort."
What made this night memorable was how Alleman did not back down from the Knights' explosive rushing attack. Illinois recruit Kendrick Foster had 189 rushing yards on 21 carries and quarterback Mikail Davis gained 158 more, but Richwoods could not shake free.
Each time the Knights scored, Alleman answered. Other than the fumble, interception and final drive, the Pioneers scored on every possession. Meanwhile, Richwoods stalled on three drives.
"We knew they were good, fast and were going to make plays," Hoogerwerf said. "When they did, you can't hang your head. We limited them a little bit."
In doing so, Alleman handed Class 6A's ninth-ranked team its second consecutive loss.
"A solid football team," Richwoods coach Roland Brown said. "You've got to play assignment football against them. As you can see, our guys weren't playing assignment football."
Alleman simply was too tough to stop.
"We knew we were going to get hit in the mouth," DeJaegher said. "We took some blows, but we kept fighting."
Tracey set the tone.
"It is nice coming in and playing a good team like this," Tracey said.
Alleman proved how good it is, too.
"This was fun," DeJaegher said. "I'm unbelievably proud."
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