Brogan Amherdt is a soccer player. He first started kicking for the football team a bit last year. His best friend is Prairie Ridge quarterback Tyler Vasey, one of the area’s leading candidates for Player of the Year. So Amherdt is a central part of the Wolves’ success this season, but his role is to kick extra points.
The Wolves score touchdowns. They rarely ever have to settle for field goals, so Amherdt entered Saturday’s Class 6A state semifinal game against St. Ignatius having never attempted a field goal.
Despite that lack of experience and despite Amherdt missing an extra point attempt in the second quarter, Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp went to his kicker with the game and the season on the line.
Amherdt delivered, crushing a 29-yard field goal with nine seconds left to give the Wolves a 21-19 win and a spot in the state championship game.
“I kind of just blacked out,” Amherdt said. “Tyler got the snap down and it was great blocking from the fellas. I took a deep breath and I don’t remember anything from there. The wind was so strong I made sure I hit it with power to get it through.”
“We knew Brogan could make kicks he just hasn’t had a lot of opportunities,” Schremp said. “He stepped up in that moment, the biggest moment of his football career.”
The cold, windy, snowy conditions hampered both offenses.
“We thought we would have home field advantage because they’ve never played on grass before,” Vasey said. “Well, we have never played on ice before. It was frozen ground today and it was terrible.”
Vinny Rugai’s eight-yard touchdown run with 5:05 to play put St. Ignatius (10-3) ahead 13-12.
Prairie Ridge (12-1) was faced with a fourth and long on the next drive. The game was on the line with just 2:45 left. Vasey connected with Drake Tomasiewicz on a 22-yard TD pass to put the Wolves ahead 18-13. It was the only pass Vasey completed in the game, he had four incompletions.
“My first look wasn’t open,” Vasey said. “I didn’t see Drake until the last second. He’s kind of been my number one all year and he went up and got it.”
St. Ignatius responded quickly, with Rugai ripping off a 34-yard TD run. That gave the Wolfpack a 19-18 lead and set the stage for Amherdt.
“[Friday] Brogan told me that he’s been imagining kicking a game winning field goal all week,” Vasey said. “I was like ‘oh ok. I sure hope not.’ And then he actually goes and does it. It’s awesome.”
Vasey, who broke the IHSA’s single-season rushing record last week, had 39 carries for 175 yards. He had a one-yard TD run in the second quarter and a 49-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
Rugai had 15 carries for 86 yards and two touchdowns for St. Ignatius. Quarterback Jake Petrow had 13 carries for 47 yards and connected with Aaron Stuart on a four-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
“They made one more play than us and that’s football sometimes,” Rugai said. “I was kind of surprised they came out to kick it. I was ready for the fake. But he put a good boot into it.”
Prairie Ridge will face East St. Louis, a 32-29 winner against Lemont, in the Class 6A title game on Saturday in Champaign. The Wolves lost to East St. Louis in the 2019 championship game and won state titles in 2017, 2016 and 2011.