After ending Mater Dei's nine-year stranglehold on the Milk Bowl -- a painted old-fashioned milk can trophy that doubles as Clinton County's Stanley Cup -- the Central Cougars finally had a chance to celebrate last Friday.
Central's 29-28 victory over Mater Dei was the first time anyone on the team, including head coach Brian Short, had ever experienced a football victory over the rival Knights.
"We took pictures out on the field at Mater Dei and then went back out to Central," said Jacob Timmermann, Central's do-everything senior receiver and cornerback who left enough of an impact on the outcome to earn Belleville News-Democrat Football Player of the Week honors.
"The coaches' wives went out and got us a bunch of milk to drink. It was pretty cool. It just seemed like every year Mater Dei was supposed to win and we came in there knowing we were going to lose. It was a totally different mind-set this year, we believed we could win and just made it happen."
It still took a bizarre play to make Milk Bowl magic.
Timmermann was running toward the end zone on a sweep trying to weave his way through traffic when a Mater Dei defender knocked the ball loose near the 5-yard line.
Enter Central offensive lineman Dylan Loquasto, who scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone.
"I was like a foot or two feet away from it," Timmermann said. "Seeing him run it in there was a really great feeling."
Timmermann leads the team with 25 catches for 415 yards and four TDs, is second in rushing (153 yards, three TDs), tied for the interception lead (two) and also handles cornerback, extra-point kicks, kickoffs, punts, kick returns and punt returns.
"The run that he fumbled it on, he broke three or four tackles before he spun into a guy," Short said. "I think he even came off the field and said 'I planned that,' just joking around in typical Jacob fashion."'
The Cougars still trailed by a point and decided to go for a 2-point conversion. Quarterback Josh Dunning lofted the ball up and Timmermann brought it down, managing to keep one foot in bounds for the eventual game-winner.
"I actually didn't know if I was going to stay in bounds," Timmermann said. "It was pretty close, but I got that one foot in."
There wasn't an aspect of the game --offense, defensive or special teams -- that Timmermann didn't excel in Friday. He was on the field for all but four plays of one series, doing all this despite never playing football until his sophomore year.
"For a kid to never play a down of football in his life, to come and catch on to it like Jacob did ... you're not going to find that very often," Short said.
In the first quarter alone, Timmermann caught touchdown passes of 38 yards and 54 yards from Dunning.
"Throw it up and he'll go under it," Dunning explained. "That's the motto."
In the second quarter, Timmermann had a 13-yard TD run that tied the game 21-21. He also kicked an extra point, threw a successful 2-point conversion pass, caught another, returned two kickoffs, returned two punts, had an interception, was the Cougars' punter and also helped disrupt the Knights' last-gasp try at a game-winning field goal.
"We watched it on film and even if they did get the snap down, he was already past the line," Dunning said. "He would have blown it up either way."
Timmermann's father, Jeff Timmermann, was a talented running back at Mater Dei who also had a bitter Milk Bowl loss to Central.
"It was neat rubbing it in his face a little bit," joked his son.
As a sophomore, Timmermann was the starting point guard on Central's state basketball championship team and the four-year varsity player is drawing college recruiting interest in his main sport.
He had never kicked in football before this season, then tried it a few times and had some luck with that as well.
"It's just his ability to find an ability to put himself in spots to make plays," Short said.
Late to football
Back in the days when Timmermann was still a soccer player as a freshman, Short envisioned his skill set in a football uniform.
"I talked to him quite a bit about it," Short said. "After watching him play basketball quite a bit as a freshman starter on the team that went to the super-sectionals, you just know when a kid's an athlete.
"To see that kind of drive in a kid as a freshman, I just thought I had to get this kid in our program."
How to do it? Short wrote Timmermann a letter.
"He was very close with Nick Grapperhaus and a few other guys that played basketball and football and they were working on him, too," Short said.
Timmermann says that letter carried a lot of weight.
"It really touched me," he said. "That letter probably made me come to football."
As a sophomore in football, Timmermann liked being around the older guys and eventually became a defensive starter and backup receiver.
Starting to play football as a sophomore is one thing. Earning all-conference and All-Area honors is another, something Timmermann has already done in two sports.
"The ball is like a magnet to him," Dunning said. "He can catch the ball, run the ball, lay people out. It's amazing what he can do for starting so late in his life."