Local Sports Update: Effingham Hearts football

Abigail Buenker and Will Starwalt

This year, the Effingham Hearts made it to the 3rd round of the playoffs for the first time in 31 years. The Hearts started off the season with a 0-2 record but managed to go on a streak of a lifetime to win the rest of their games, which secured them a spot in the playoffs against Mater Dei from Breese, IL. The Hearts won that game very easily 21-6. Then the Hearts had home-field advantage against Paris. This would be first time that the Hearts saw them this season and they managed to win that game 30-14.

During the third round, it was a home-field matchup vs Bishop McNamara from Kankakee, the Hearts lost this game with a final score of 42-35. The Hearts started off very strong. Quarterback Landon Wolfe threw a 40 yard pass to Tristin Duncan for 40 yards early on in the game. With a 22 yard touchdown pass, the Hearts were 7-0. The Hearts repeated that formula again and ended the first quarter 14-0.  The Irish came back, however, with senior running back Tyshon King breaking many tackles and getting the touchdown. McNamara missed the field goal making the score 14-6. With halftime nearing, Effingham’s Wolfe threw an interception but luckily for the Hearts, they got the ball back after the ball was fumbled on return.

The Irish started out the 2nd like Effingham did in the start of the game. On one of the first plays of the half, McNamara had a 66 yard reverse pass making the score 14-12. After that, Effingham made two fumbles on which the Irish made two touchdowns on. From then on, McNamara had the momentum to win the gain. The Hearts did intercept a pass near the end-zone but fumbled on the return again and McNamara took the lead with 21-34 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Effingham continued to fight back. Wolfe found Jett Gillum and put the Hearts back in the game. With the score at 28-34, things were looking up for the Hearts, but it wasn’t enough though. Effingham did get back on the board one last time with two minutes left in the game. They scored making it 35-42, but it wasn’t enough to win the 3rd round playoffs.

Historically, only one other team had made it this deep in post season play. Bishop McNamara was a worthy opponent and had been blowing out opponents all season. This was the greatest challenge they Hearts had so far. The Hearts’ season was lead by the head coach Brett Hefner and Landon Wolfe, a senior quarterback. Landon broke the all-time passing yards at Effingham for the Hearts this year. Also, helping in the backfield was Kendall Ballman, a senior running back for the Hearts, who seemed to be able to break open runs a score big plays when all seemed lost. Even with the talent they had, this team will surely be remembered for a long time as they will hang a banner in the school’s gym to remember the team that got to the 3rd round of the playoffs for the 2nd time in their school’s history.


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