By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The first half of Rockford Boylan and Rockton Hononegah’s NIC-10 football opener Aug. 26 was riddled with penalties and turnovers that kept the score tied at 0-0 as the second quarter was coming to its end.
The Titans made one final mistake in the half, snapping the ball over quarterback Lamont Toney’s head on third and 14. The Indians’ defense made a mistake of their own, rushing after the loose ball.
The ball bounced right into Toney’s hands. The senior quarterback turned, rolled to his left, and found Jaxson Meister wide open in the end zone, giving Boylan their first score on their way to a 28-0 win.
“Our kids saw the coverage, they made the call. It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to,” Boylan coach Dan Appino said. “To some extent, you have this defense that is focused on Tyreis Thomas in the middle, too. They tend to lock down and wall up, and that gave Lamont a little extra time to find a guy.”
While the Boylan offense struggled while trying to break in a new offensive line, the Titans’ defense appeared to be in midseason form. Five Hononegah turnovers helped to allow Boylan to shut out the Indians’ offense and give their offense time to work out of their opening-game funk.
“We came out flat on offense,” defensive lineman Dean Lowry said. “Our defense knew we needed to step it up, and knew we had to be the side of the ball to carry the team. We knew that our offensive line was inexperienced. Once they settled down, they figured it out and did a good job.”
Thomas led the way for Boylan with 84 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Toney ran for 58 yards and a touchdown to go with 73 passing yards. It was an unspectacular, but solid, offensive performance behind a brand-new offensive line.
“They were antsy, and they had a hard time hearing in the first half,” Appino said. “With a brand-new offensive line, communication is a big deal when you’re going no huddle. We slowed down and huddled a little more in the second half.”
For the Indians, it’s back to the drawing board for a team trying to replace all but one starter. Their defense played strong, but offensively, they are still trying to find the right combination.
“I think it was just the fundamentals. We made mistakes that we shouldn’t of [sic] made. We fumbled the ball, we turned it over, just stupid mistakes,” fullback Eli Trulley, who led the Indians with 63 rushing yards, said. “At the same time, we were still only 7 points down at halftime, and playing them tough and physical.”
The Titans will return home next week to face Hononegah. The Indians will travel to Belvidere to face the Blue Thunder of Belvidere North.
In other NIC-10 action:
• The Rockford East E-Rabs gave Machesney Park Harlem all they could handle in a wild shootout, but the Huskies prevailed 49-34 in their season opener. Brenton Benedict had 83 rushing yards and three touchdowns to lead Harlem, which also got 196 passing yards from Cody DiGiovanni. Andrew Lantz led the way for East, throwing for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while also running another score in.
• Rockford Guilford’s Dontrel Chance enjoyed the new field turf in Freeport, running for 212 yards and three touchdowns, as well as returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, in a 38-22 win over the Pretzels. Senior quarterback Alex Bennett of Freeport did throw for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
• Dan King ran for 78 yards and a touchdown, and Marcus Gooden ran for 54 yards and two touchdown in a 43-27 Belvidere win over the Rockford Jefferson J-Hawks. Kenyatter Larkins ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
• Austin Smaha scored all four touchdowns for Belvidere North while running for 121 yards in a 28-6 win over Rockford Auburn.
From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue