Senior playmaker McNair helps Joliet Central end long skid on football field
It had been 57 games since the Joliet Central football team had experienced the thrill of victory, but the victory was extra sweet because the Steelmen also pulled off the win in dramatic fashion.
Front and center for Joliet Central was senior Jomarre McNair, who was in junior high the last time the Steelmen found the win column.
Trailing 35-31 to Plainfield Central in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Steelmen had the ball on the 29 yard line. McNair ran his route toward the end zone.
"I was shocked,’’ McNair told the Will County Gazette. "I had double coverage and the quarterback (Zach Wisneski) said just get open. I tried to, but there were two guys in back of me. I redirected and I saw the cornerback had the ball in his hand. I popped the ball up and I caught it for a touchdown.’’
The game winning score came with just 29 seconds left.
And when the clock ticked down to zero, there was pandemonium on the Joliet Central side as the Steelmen made their way to the jubilant locker room.
"It was great,’’ McNair said. "It was something we have never felt before. We had never won a game.’’
McNair had definitely done his part to erase the 57-game losing streak.
Against Plainfield Central, McNair caught eight passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed six times for 91 yards, including a 55 yarder for a fourth touchdown.
"He is our big playmaker in every game we play,’’ Steelmen coach Brett Boyter told the Will County Gazette. "He plays both sides of the ball at receiver and cornerback. He also has played some running back the past few games. We just need to make sure the ball is in his hands and figure out how to get the ball in his hands. He has good size, but might not have the size that most big schools want. He definitely has the talent, a high football IQ, very competitive and he is one of those guys if you need to make a play you know he is going to do it. He has everything you are looking for in a football player, and I don’t care (if) he is a little undersized (5-feet-11, 175 pounds).’’
Boyter further defended McNair’s size.
"Playing three sports, he does not get the opportunity to gain a lot weight,’’ Boyter said.
As far as the losing streak, Boyter told the players at the start of the season that it should not be a burden. But the players took it upon themselves to make it a priority to end the skid.
"From our perspective, we preach to them that we are a new team,’’ Boyter said. "At that point, we were 0-3 and not 0-57. This team concentrates on who they are and what they can accomplish.’’
Boyter also is aware some of his players are being recruited, not that he knows what is going on all the time.
"Last spring I gave a lot of college coaches information (about upperclassmen) and a lot of recruiting happens behind my back with social media,'' Boyter said. "Kids are getting offers, and I didn’t even know they had been contacted. It takes a burden off me and these guys are learning to market themselves and giving themselves a chance to play in college.’’
McNair said he is not worried about the recruiting process.
‘’I just want to help my team win football games,’’ said McNair, who has a 3.0 grade point average.
"He is not a bad student,’’ Boyter said. "He is going to retake his ACT. He has good grades; and when he goes to college, he is not going to be an eligibility issue.’’
Now it’s Boyter’s job to get his Steelmen back in the winners' circle again.
"I don’t want to hear anything more about it,’’ Boyter said. "We have a lot of work to do.’’
Chances are McNair and his teammates could not agree more.