SPRING VALLEY — Seven years. That’s how long it has been since Richard Nesti Stadium has played host to an IHSA playoff game.
With a long, storied playoff tradition dating back to the 1980s, one can expect to find the house to be rocking when the Kings of Rock and Roll return home for some November football.
“It feels nice. Even going to feel better to play in front of our home fans and go back home,” Hall senior linebacker Nathan Tonozzi, who led the Red Devil defense with 14 tackles in Saturday’s 20-7 win at Bismarck-Henning.
“We’ve got to come out and give them a show. Just to be able to play at home in the second round is crazy,” said senior defensive back Colin Aimone, who scored a touchdown both receiving and by interception Saturday.
“It’s good to bring a home playoff game back to Hall. We’ll get a lot of fans out there,” senior quarterback Taggart Venegas said.
The Red Devils faced some speed bumps along the way to get here. They started out 2-3 before winning their final four games of the regular season to build momentum into the playoffs.
“We were all looking at (the playoffs),” Aimone said. “I know a few kids may have got down when we lost a few games. Somewhere deep down, I think we all knew we were going to pull something together. We’re just trying to go as far as we can. We’re not satisfied. We want to keep going.
Like Hall, Momence pulled off an upset victory on the road Saturday, defeating Sangamon Valley Conference rival Clifton Central 13-6. It was an especially sweet win for the Redskins defeating a Comets team that just a week before shut them out 21-0 and a year ago knocked them out of the first round of the playoffs 26-0.
Momence coach Matt Fox gives all the credit to his kids for last week’s turnaround against Clifton Central.
“They kept their heads up and believed in each other all week leading up to our rematch. On Saturday, they competed every play and gave great effort,” he said.
Fox said his team has progressively improved each week and will need to continue to win at Hall.
“We are going to need that same effort and intensity this week if we want to have a chance against a very good Spring Valley Hall team,” he said. “They look to have very good athletes along with good size in the box. I also know that playing at their place is going to pose a huge challenge for our team. We are looking forward to the opportunity and are excited about this match-up.”
Momence has a balanced offense, led by quarterback Aaron Cantwell, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards, and running back LeAnthony Reasnove, who has rushed for over 1,200 yards this season. The Redskins offensive line is much experienced with four seniors.
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