WESTVILLE – There have been bigger, faster and stronger running backs in the history of IHSA football, but none has ever enjoyed a more productive career than Westville's Caleb Pratt.
The senior put his name atop the IHSA record books twice during Westville's 43-14 beating of rival Georgetown-Ridge Farm in the 85th Coal Bucket showdown Friday night.
Pratt surpassed John Dergo's career touchdown record in the first quarter, when he ran in from 17 yards out for his 111th career score.
Early in the fourth quarter he shattered former Unity star Henry Deters' all-time state rushing record in classic Pratt fashion. The elusive back took the handoff and started off right tackle before cutting outside and outrunning the Buffaloes' defense 40 yards.
Pratt seemed more relieved than thrilled to have made history.
"It's nice, but it feels better that we won," Pratt said. "Now we can actually just play football and go into the playoffs with a clear head and nothing on our shoulders and just play football."
Despite all the talk of records, Pratt and the Tigers say they are focused on the big picture, meaning a third consecutive extended playoff run. They took another step in that direction against G-RF, securing their second straight 9-0 regular season.
Westville held a 20-7 halftime advantage after a 1-yard Aaron Johnson run and a 3-yard score from Pratt. The defense came up big, denying the Buffaloes points after they sat at the Tigers' 4-yard line with a first and goal.
G-RF scored on a 3-yard pass from Chase Vire to Tyler Dill before halftime.
"We could have been down just 20-14 at halftime and been right in the game," G-RF coach Jason Baccadutre said. "They have so much team speed and so many weapons – if you give them an inch they'll make you pay."
Pratt put the game out of reach in the third quarter on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage. Breaking several tackles, Pratt scampered 64 yards and Johnson ran in a botched extra-point snap for a 28-7 lead.
Alex McMahon, back in the lineup after being sidelined last week by a pinched nerve in his neck, ended the third quarter by connecting on a 39-yard field goal try.
The fourth quarter began with a 67-yard touchdown run from Pratt and was highlighted less than a minute later by his history-making run. He was congratulated on the sideline by coaches and teammates and left the game to a standing ovation from an overflow crowd moments later.
"It's nice to see him get the record," Westville senior Jeremy Lutchka said. "But as a team I think we took a step back tonight. We played a lot better in the second half, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Westville coach Guy Goodlove was encouraged after his team's dominant second-half showing.
"We took a step forward tonight, and I think we gained some momentum going into the playoffs," Goodlove said. "We can focus on football and just football now and not have to worry about anything else. We're a pretty good football team."