Hancock Stadium was the site for the annual Illinois State Spring football game, on a beautiful afternoon for some football.
Quarterback Jake Kolbe, a Naperville native, played for both the white and red teams in the first half. For the white team, Kolbe went 4-for-7 for 63 yards, with a long for 36 yards. Kolbe played the entire game for the red team, going 7-for-14 for 104 yards and a game winning touchdown drive to sophomore receiver Spencer Schnell to cap off the afternoon.
“Coach Spack predicates our practice on competition because that’s how games are, its competitive but it was fun getting out here in front of the fans and the stadium and stuff — beautiful weather, beautiful day,” Kolbe said.
Backup redshirt freshman running back DeMarco Corbin had a 42-yard touchdown run for the red team. He finished with 48 yards on three carries. For the white team, freshman athlete Hasan Muhammad-Rogers had an electrifying 18-yard run on a broken play to pick up a first down.
Quarterback Koty Thelen started the second half off with a 70-yard touchdown pass to wideout Anthony Fowler for the white team, which was the longest play of the afternoon scrimmage. The completion was the only pass Thelen threw in the game.
Zach Breen knocked in a 27-yard field goal for the white team. Starting kicker Sean Slattery missed a 40-yard attempt in the first quarter for the red team.
On the defensive side, linebacker Brent Spack and defensive back Luther Kirk intercepted Kolbe on back-to-back possessions in the first half, when Kolbe was playing for both teams. Linebacker Bryce Holm led the white team with five tackles, and Michael Ganzer led the red team with five tackles.
“We will continue to work, and we’re going to make this the best summer this staff has ever had and this team’s ever had. The biggest thing is just getting better every single day,” Kolbe said.
Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Kolbe started two games for the Redbirds. On the season he finished 26-40 (65 percent), for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Kolbe also ran for a touchdown in the playoff loss to Richmond, a loss the Redbirds have not forgotten.
In a season where a trip to five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State looms, offseason preparation is key.
Illinois State has shared the Missouri Valley title the past two seasons with NDSU.
After the most successful two year stretch in program history, the hunger for more success is definitely in the eyes of the ’Birds.
The team’s number-one wide receiver, Anthony Warrum, said, “Jake and I have gotten really close over the last two years, he’s an awesome guy, great leader, and I’m looking forward to him being able to command the huddle, especially like he does in the weight room; he’s been pushing me and all of our teammates. I’m looking forward to taking over the season with him.”
The Redbirds open the season at home in Hancock Stadium on September 3 against Valparaiso. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m.