ST. JOSEPH -- There were obvious highlights for St. Thomas More on Friday as it shut out St. Joseph-Ogden 30-0 in a Sangamon Valley Conference contest.
Joe Parkhill rushed for 225 first-half yards and scored three touchdowns before intermission.
The defense barely allowed the Spartans 2 yards per rush (51 yards on 23 carries), but there were other details that could easily have been overlooked.
STM forced SJ-O's Jake Bock to punt eight times. On three of those occasions, Parkhill called for a fair catch. Many high school athletes seem flustered trying to catch the ball in a crowd and let it bounce.
Such field position can put a team in a deeper hole. The final punt by STM's Tyler Schweighart was credited as a 45-yarder. The last 15 yards came after SJ-O elected to let the punt hit the ground at its own 49 and it bounced downfield 15 more yards before being downed at the 34.
SJ-O (3-3) had seven possessions in the game where it ran three plays and then punted.
While Parkhill was an offensive spark, teammate Carson Woodworth showed his big-play potential. He had 114 all-purpose yards and only touched the ball three times. He caught passes from quarterback Kristian Gallivan for 30 and 50 yards and returned an interception 34 yards.
His second-half pick against the Spartans' Dana Pyburn was SJ-O's only turnover. The Spartans were whistled for their first -- and only -- penalty with 4:57 left in the game on a personal foul.
STM played a near flawless first half: no turnovers, one penalty for 5 yards and 303 total yards on 31 plays, just under an average of 10 yards per play.
What makes the performance even more impressive is that the athlete who led the team in rushing entering Friday's game, Tyler Sullivan, was sidelined with an ankle injury. Yet, the Sabers' offense still ran efficiently the first half.
Senior Aric McGuire contributed 48 rushing yards on nine carries in the game.
The outcome means that the Sabers (4-2) are in good position to reach the six-win mark,. which will automatically qualify them for the playoffs. SJ-O, meanwhile, could fall below .500 next week (when playing at Watseka) and, if so, would need to post wins the final two weeks to become playoff-eligible and then hope they'll have enough points (which can be determined by adding the overall wins for its nine opponents) to be selected by the IHSA.
Congratulations to the four area schools who are unbeaten (6-0) at this point: Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, Mahomet-Seymour, Salt Fork and Villa Grove.
Villa Grove plays at Arcola next week for undisputed possession of first place in the LOVC. Mahomet-Seymour plays at Bloomington Central Catholic next week with sole possession of the Corn Belt Conference lead at stake. GCMS plays Fieldcrest in Minonk in a game where a Falcon loss would create a multiple tie for first place in the Heart of Illinois Conference.
Salt Fork, meanwhile, will travel to face a Georgetown-Ridge Farm team which has won three of its last four games.