Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2012, 10:48 pm

Typical Alleman drive punctuates state championship berth

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Brett Roseman
Alleman quarterback John Tracey sprints while looking for a receiver as Evergreen Park's Kyle Venhuizen closes in on him Saturday night.
EVERGREEN PARK -- A drive that featured no highlight-reel catches or tackle-breaking rushes proved to be a beautiful thing.

As Alleman sees it, old-school football still is something to watch.

In an era of high-paced, frantic offenses, the Pioneers stuck with their patient offensive scheme that carried them to a 23-7 win over Evergreen Park in the Class 4A state semifinals on Saturday night. The defining moment, though, came late in the third quarter as Alleman took over at its own 41 after a short Evergreen Park punt.

The next 17 plays epitomized the Pioneers' approach.

Staying mostly inside the tackles, Alleman methodically ran through the Mustangs defense with clutch run after clutch run. By the time quarterback John Tracey punctuated the 59-yard drive, the Pioneers took 8:06 off the clock and increased their lead to 23-7.

"Alleman football right there," Alleman senior Tom Noe said. "Hard-nosed football."

Not once did the Pioneers defer from that thought on the drive. Each run up the middle wore out the Evergreen Park defense that was looking for the stop it could never get.

"Our running backs were running hard, man," Alleman coach Dave DeJaegher said. "They made some big third-down conversions. We were going to run it at them. It was going to be a deal where we could get a first down and we got them. That was a tough drive -- it took a lot of steam out of them."

Old-school football sometimes does that to teams.

Alleman's longest play on the drive was eight yards, with 10 getting three yards or less. The Pioneers were 4-of-5 on third-down conversions and made their only fourth-down attempt.

"You know, that's what part of the Alleman offense is -- wearing people out," Alleman senior Connor Whan said. "That kind of wore them out a little bit toward the end. We just had a little more in the tank at the end then they did."

Used effectively, the grind-it-out style can be difficult to stop. When you execute the way the Pioneers did on Saturday night, it is impossible.

Alleman was novocaine, eventually making the Mustangs go numb.

Whenever the Pioneers needed a play in that eight-minute stretch, they got it. Evergreen Park had no answer.

"Phenomenal," Tracey said.

That seems to be the perfect description.

"That's what Alleman football is all about ," senior running back Adam Hoogerwerf said, "keeping the ball in our hands, making it easy on our defense and chewing clock."

For 48 minutes, that is what Alleman did. Eight minutes, though, was the crucial stretch.

"We were trying to pound it at them," Noe said. "We had the lead. It was our game to win."

Credit that to old-school football.