Tilson's big plays lead New Trier past Maine East
Future college baseball player catches 2 TD passes, returns punt for score
New Trier senior wide receiver Charlie Tilson has committed to play baseball at the University of Illinois. But on the football field Thursday night at Maine East, his home run-hitting ability was on full display.
Tilson nearly took the game’s opening kickoff back for a touchdown before being tackled for a return of 64 yards. On the next play, he caught a pass in the flat from quarterback Connor DeLoach and took it 24-yards for the score and a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
The next time Tilson touched the ball, he took a punt 65 yards for a touchdown.
For the game, Tilson scored on three of his five touches to lead the Trevians to a 41-0 victory over the Blue Demons. That’s not a bad average.
"We’ve got a great kickoff return team," Tilson said. "The way the holes were opening up today, there wasn’t much for me to do but kind of read what was going on, maybe break one or two tackles and after that it was off to the races. I’ve got to credit (my teammates), they did a great job blocking."
After doing most of its damage on the ground last week in a 33-14 win over Glenbrook North, New Trier’s offense took to the air to start Thursday’s game.
"We’ve been very successful in our running game and knew they were probably watching our film on that," Tilson said. "So when we ran that play where I go in motion, we usually run it up the gut, so we figured they’d collapse in the box. We ran the pass in the flat and I had about 20 yards in front of me after that. Scott Schoder gave me a good block on the perimeter to help me get in the end zone."
DeLoach (5-for-5 passing, 80 yards, 3 TDs) connected with Tilson on a 21-yard pass to set up a 9-yard rushing touchdown from untouched junior tailback Jack Nykaza (43 yards rushing, 6 carries, 1 TD) on the next play to put New Trier ahead 14-0 with 5:43 left in the opening quarter.
New Trier senior linebacker Connor Casas’ sack forced Maine East (1-3) to punt on the ensuing drive , which Tilson returned 60 yards for TD and a 20-0 lead following a failed extra-point attempt.
New Trier senior fullback Kevin Samuelson rumbled for 40 yards on three carries during a drive that ended in DeLoach’s 6-yard TD strike to senior tight end Henry Falter for a 27-0 lead with 3:44 remaining in the first half.
"We knew after our running game last week, that they’d open it up out wide," DeLoach said. "So we just took it to ’em with the pass right away. It was all good from there. The running game did a great job, and we really lit it up on the board and executed."
The Blue Demons’ subsequent drive was halted following Trevians senior cornerback Tom Merriman’s team-high third interception of the year, despite being fooled for a second.
"I read the sweep because they ran that a couple times, so I jumped up," Merriman said. "When I saw he was passing, I just tried to get as much depth as I could and make a play on the ball and it worked out."
New Trier (3-1) took over with 2:15 remaining in the first half at its own 42-yard line and needed only five plays and 55 seconds before DeLoach found a wide open Tilson (64 yards receiving, 3 catches, 2 receiving TDs) for a 19-yard score and a 34-0 halftime lead.
"Obviously he’s a great person to have out there with me," DeLoach said of Tilson. "He’s a great threat to every defense so they have to try and cover him. Even if I can’t hit him, he’s opening things up for someone else."
Samuelson ran for an 11-yard touchdown with 8:07 left in the third quarter to make it 41-0.
Maine East, which gave New Trier a few different looks on offense, including the Wildcat formation, totaled 133 yards of offense with 111 on the ground.
"We practiced that all week long," Merriman said. "On Monday, we had one person be (Xavier Levy). We ran the Wildcat every day in practice. We knew it was coming and were ready for it."
Dezi Sloan led Maine East with 47 yards on 14 carries and quarterback George Zakharia ran for 40 yards on 10 carries on a variety of designed runs.
"Maine East had a good plan," New Trier coach Dan Starkey said. "They have some backs with some good speed. We missed some tackles that we’ve got to continue to get better at fundamentally. But I thought our coaches had a good game plan."
New Trier cornerback Chris Kennedy intercepted one pass. Junior linebacker Jack O’Malley recorded a sack, while senior defensive back Mike Clark and junior defensive tackle Eric Goldner combined for another.
Maine East defensive end Arthur Thiel recorded a sack for a loss of 15 yards early in the second quarter.