By Steve Millar
With starting running back James Williams out with a concussion, junior Michael Torres knew he had to step up for Evergreen Park on Thursday – both in the backfield and on the defensive side.
“All practice, all we really did was run the ball, to be ready for this,” Torres said. “I had to go in and do what (Williams) does best, which is run the ball hard.
“I had to play middle linebacker, too, because that’s where he normally plays. I had to be mentally prepared for all of that.”
Torres and freshman Jedidiah Adjayi both stepped up to fill the void, combining for 314 yards rushing as the host Mustangs rolled to a 28-6 win over Argo in a South Suburban Red game.
Adjayi was a workhorse in the first half for Evergreen Park (2-1, 2-1), carrying the ball 22 times. He finished with 23 carries for 192 yards and a touchdown before leaving early in the second half with an injury. He was taken to an area hospital with concussion-like symptoms.
He made quite an impression on his teammates.
“He is going to be special,” Torres said of Adjayi. “He’s way better than me when I was a freshman. It’s exciting seeing what he can do.”
Torres ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
The Mustangs got their offense going right away, scoring on the opening drive of the game as Adjayi’s 43-yard run down to the 1-yard line set up Torres’ 1-yard touchdown run.
Argo (0-3, 0-3) answered immediately, however, when junior Deiontae McDonald returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 7-6.
Evergreen Park came right back with a steady dose of Adjayi, who ran for 53 yards on a 57-yard drive that concluded with him plunging into the end zone from 2 yards out.
The Argonauts held tough throughout the rest of the first half and nearly got to the locker room trailing by only eight, but the Mustangs struck in the final seconds of the half.
Evergreen Park took over at the Argo 18-yard line with 36 seconds left in the half following a 25-yard punt return by Elijah Matthews. Three plays later, Devin Turner hit Matt Walsh on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left, sending the Mustangs to the break with a 21-6 lead.
Walsh said he was fired up after a disappointing 18-13 loss to Bremen in the Mustangs’ last game.
“Last week, as a senior, that loss was terrible,” Walsh said. “It was a horrible loss. I took it personally. Monday, when we all huddled up, I told them that this week was going to be different. We worked really hard all week to be ready for this game.”
Torres closed the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Matthews also had an interception for the Mustangs.
McDonald did a bit of everything for Argo. In addition to the kickoff return touchdown, he ran for 39 yards on 12 carries and was 2-of-4 passing for 41 yards.
Sophomore wide receiver Davontae Evans hauled in three catches for 75 yards.
The Argonauts, while still down just 15 points, got deep into Evergreen Park territory twice in the second half, but turned it over on downs both times.
“That’s going to be the key when we talk this week, that you’ve got to finish,” Argo coach Tim Connelly said. “We’ve been close in three games. It’s been night and day from last year to this year. We’ve got some kids that can play. They’re practicing well and they’re playing their hearts out for me. We just have to finish.