CHAMPAIGN – Plano learned one important lesson in last year's 47-42 Class 3A football playoff championship win against St. Joseph-Ogden.
"We were up three scores and let it go last year, and we were not going to let that happen again," Plano coach Jim Green said after Friday's 32-7 win against Columbia.
The Reapers made sure that didn't happen by doing what they do best on a time-consuming 19-play drive of 80 yards for the clinching final TD. They ran, ran and ran some more on the drive that started late in the third quarter and didn't end until Alec Haws' 7-yard run with 3:47 left in the game.
"The wing-T offense is a run-first offense," standout Plano linebacker Dan Peruski said. "Our ability to control the clock and not make mistakes on offense has been our best defense all season. Our backs have done great this year. They're not afraid to go in there whether there is a hole or not."
Senior fullback Luis Alvarado and sophomore Jeremy Cannon fueled Plano's diversified ground attack that accounted for 242 of the Reapers' 246 yards of total offense. Alvarado pounded out 138 yards in 22 carries.
Cannon broke a 7-7 tie with a 63-yard interception return of a Tyler Truttmann pass midway through the second quarter. He scored two minutes later on a 17-yard run for a 20-7 halftime lead. The run came on the first play after a fourth-down Columbia pass from punt formation fell incomplete.
"We are taught to run the ball straight at them," Alvarado said, "and that is what we try to do. We spread the ball around so everyone has a chance. Cannon had a great game. He is only going to get better."
Senior quarterback Brian Green was another player who delivered this year after being a reserve on last year's team.
"I knew the routines after being there last year as a backup at quarterback and running back and playing special teams," the son of the coach said. "We've always been a running team. We've been doing the same thing since the eighth grade."
Said Columbia coach Scott Horner:
"They are a very good football team. What they lack in size they make up in speed and aggressiveness. I can't say enough about my players. They were never ranked all season, and got very little respect, but they didn't care. It's everyone's dream to be here, but I'd be lying if I said we expected to be here at the start of the season."