"Coaler Swag!"

That's the battle cry from the Coal City football team. "Coaler Swag" is real and the Coalers take a 9-1 record and #2 seed into Saturday's contest with #10 seed and perennial power Stillman Valley. Coal City's dynamic duo will be ready.

Cody Onsen to Matt Halloran is perhaps one of the top quarterback-receiver combinations in the state. Onsen (6-2, 225) and Halloran (6-1, 185) knew they had a good chemistry when they played together as 8th graders on a local arena team.

"Matt's a great receiver," said Cody Onsen. "He's strong and he goes up and gets the ball. If it's in the air going his way, he's going to catch it. Matt will make plays anywhere on the field."

Halloran had equal praise for his quarterback. "We've really played well together. " Matt Halloran said.

"We've been going to camps and 7-on-7's for years now and we watch a lot of film. It's nice to know that when Cody and I hit the field that we are on the same page."

Cody Onsen has been around the Coal City program since he was able to walk. His father, Lenny Onsen, has been the Coalers head coach for the past 12 years and a part of the football program for the last 25 years.

"Next year will be the first year since 1999 that I didn't have one of my sons on the sideline with me." Coach Onsen said.

"It's going to be different for sure but I'm trying not to think about that too much right now. I feel that I have a real special group here now.

"I have a terrific junior class to go with a small senior class. This group doesn't fear anyone but they respect everyone. It's just a thrill for me to be at practice with this group of kids.

"That's why ‘Coaler Swag' has been our motto this year. We have a real confident team. We're not concerned about the brackets or the draw. We have to beat the best eventually to win it all so we'll take it one game at a time."

We asked Coach Onsen if he could talk about the connection that his son Cody has with area's leading receiver Matt Halloran.

"Cody and Matt have been together for the last five years," he said. "Matt is Cody's favorite target and I'm just really impressed with the strides that Matt has taken the past few years.

"Matt is like former Vikings receiver Cris Carter because all he does is catch touchdowns. He had three catches last week and all were for touchdowns.

"Matt's dad, Pat (Halloran) was an excellent basketball player for Coal City and I'd tell Pat that there wasn't a shot in the gym that he didn't like on the court and there's not a pass that his son doesn't want on the football field.

"The apple didn't fall too far from the tree. Matt is as competitor. He works hard in practice and he's worked hard in the off-season. Matt just a hard-nosed football player."

College coaches love players who are coached by their father, especially at the quarterback position because they know they are getting a well-prepared football player.

"When Cody was a kid, he wore out all of our old game films." Coach Onsen explained. "I would ask him if he knew what he was watching and he ended up having a lot of questions. He knew exactly what was going on and what he was looking at.

"It's nice to have a quarterback with Cody's size. He's our fullback/quarterback. If we're in a short-yardage situation, Cody's usually going to get his number called.

"I feel that Cody and Matt have the ability to play at the I-AA level. Illinois State and Eastern Illinois have both shown interest."

College will have to wait for now. They dynamic-duo of Onsen-Halloran and their Coal City teammates have a state championship to win.

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