Of the 20 fouls, many resulted in players finding the ground. At one point, Oakwood junior defenseman Kerrick Sweetlan found himself out of breath and on the playing surface when looking to grab a goal kick.
“It was a very physical game,” Sweetland said. “I got the wind knocked out of me on that one [play]. It hurt.”
But Hoopeston Area’s leaders don’t shy away from their aggressive team identity – it is how they had to play to survive last year. Despite the move to Class 1A after the split from Bismarck-Henning, the Cornjerkers have seen plenty of 2A competition this year with wins over Mahomet-Seymour and Champaign Centennial with their single loss coming at the hands of Danville high.
“2A soccer … is a lot more physical than 1A,” Hoopeston head coach John Klaber said. “We, I think, are a physical team. We always try to stay within the rules and do what needs to be done. But we try to be dominate on the ball, which involves having to be a little bit more physical.”
The physicality of the game manifested itself in words toward the end of the competition. During another hotly contested free ball along the fan-lined sideline, Jett was looking for the referee to issue another foul, when a fan exchanged words with the Cornjerker captain.
“I went for the ball and I knocked a kid over, and he yelled the ‘F’ word really loud right next to the referee,” Jett said. “I’m appealing to the ref ‘how could he not have heard that’ and I’m talking to the ref. I’m assuming one of his friends or his parent or his father said something and I said ‘I wasn’t talking to you.’”
But fouls, wind and fans aside, Jett was content with the win, but not with how his team played.
“We just came off an 8-1 win against Georgetown, with the one goal against us being a little fluke,” Jett said. “But, if we play like we should, every game … can be an 8-0 game.”
Oakwood drops to 2-4-3 for the season, while Hoopeston Area goes to 5-1-0.