By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The Rockton Hononegah Indians had a lot on their plate for the opening week of the season.
Their game (as well as all the games in the area) was canceled Friday, Aug. 30, and rescheduled for Saturday morning, Aug. 31. On top of that, Rockford East presents a diverse offensive attack that you have to be ready for.
And they also have a big home game with Rockford Boylan Catholic coming up that they didn’t want to concentrate on until the game with East was over.
The Indians were able to block out all of those distractions and put on an impressive display, scoring early and often on their way to a 50-0 opening-week win over the E-Rabs.
“We were confident the whole time,” Hononegah quarterback Alex Smith said. “I think if anything, it worked against East, because they had to drive home (Friday) night and turn around and come out the next morning.”
Smith was a big part of Hononegah’s success against East, and a big part of what they hope to do this season. Smith said they are going to make a concerted effort to make more plays through the air, and they did so against East, including a nice 28-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Adrian Marquez.
While the passing may be new, the run game was as dominant as ever. Senior Alex Martin ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, and Alec Dodd had two nice touchdown runs as well.
What was probably the most impressive thing for Hononegah, and perhaps a key for them ending Boylan’s streak, was the speed of the defense.
The Indians’ defense doesn’t look quite as big as it has in years past, but they are faster than usual, and played a more physical brand of football than seen on previous Hononegah teams. Head Coach Tim Sughroue said that has been a major focus this offseason for his team.
“(The coaching staff) has done a great job on the defensive side of the ball and at their individual positions,” he said. “It just seems like this year it is coming together even better because we are working so hard on those individual positions.”
All of that work sets up for the big home game, the early-season matchup that could determine the conference champion in the NIC-10. Boylan will travel to Hononegah Friday, Sept. 6, with a lot of questions left for both teams.
For Boylan, they are coming off a hard-fought, 16-7 win over Rockford Auburn. It was a strange weekend all around for the Titans, as their freshman and sophomore teams took big losses. But the biggest surprise was the struggle against the Knights.
The Boylan defense looked good and will be a key for the Titans. But the offense struggled against a fast and physical Auburn defense that looks very similar to what the Indians will present.
If Hononegah can make plays in the air against Boylan, something Auburn could not do, then they will have a great shot at ending the 66-game NIC-10 winning streak of Boylan.
As the Indians get ready for that game, they want to find out if the improvements that were made were the result of perhaps playing an overmatched opponent, or if they are a sign of things to come this season.
“The main thing in high school football is to make sure you evaluate and see what you need to do to get better,” Sughroue said. “For us to beat a team like Boylan, we have to be perfect.”
From the Sept. 4-10, 2013, issue