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  • (David Hill photos)
    FOOTBALL: Indians bulldoze Bulldogs, 55-6

    Doug Daniels
    Friday, October 7, 2016

    In week six of the 2015 varsity football season, the Sparta Bulldogs ended a 32-year drought by defeating Du Quoin for the first time since 1983 with a senior-laden club that finished the season 5-4. With a much younger roster at their dispense, there would be no repeat in 2016.
    The Indians absolutely destroyed Sparta in all phases of the game this past Friday night, beating up on the Bulldogs 55-6. Du Quoin had the game well in hand by halftime up 41-0, and the clock ran continuously for the final two quarters.
    “We really are kind of hitting our stride a little bit,” said DHS head football coach A.J. Hill. “We’ve had a couple convincing wins, but we still have to learn from our mistakes. It wasn’t like it was a perfect game. We’re starting to click a little bit, our defense has been playing well, shutting down things that we should be shutting down the last two weeks. Maybe we’re getting some of those mistakes from early in the season out of the way and starting to gel a little bit better as a team.”
    For the second week in a row, Du Quoin’s starting defense didn’t give up a touchdown. In fact, they didn’t even give up a first down. Sparta actually lost more yards than they gained in the opening half. Devin Jones and Kyle Robinson in particular had strong games, with the former recording a pair of sacks and a defensive touchdown and the latter tying Jones for the team lead in tackles for a loss with three.
    “I think it comes from (the defense’s) preparation,” Hill said, “knowing what to expect, the scout team during the week playing their role and doing a good job of showing them what to expect on Friday night.”
    “A lot of those guys are starting to get into mid-season form a little bit. Jones has seen a lot of football, played a lot of football as a three-year starter. (Robinson) is one of those guys that was kind of young to start season, fresh at the position, so he’s starting to get more comfortable. It’s a combination of those things. They’re playing well, and they’re playing together - that’s the big thing.”
    Sparta received the opening kickoff and punted after losing yardage, giving the ball to the Indians at the Bulldogs’ 41-yard line. Three plays later, running back Zayne Fornear had found the end zone for his first of three touchdowns on a 26-yard run.
    Another three-and-out followed for Sparta, followed by another Du Quoin touchdown drive that started in Bulldog territory. This time Fornear scored from two yards out to complete the 7-play, 45-yard possession.
    The Indians’ defense continued to dominate and forced another punt, and again DHS took over on Sparta’s side of the field at the 49. Fornear made this drive a quick one, taking the first play to the house for his third score to make it 21-0 Du Quoin with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
    Another three-and-out, another Du Quoin touchdown. Bryce Clarry took a handoff on fourth-and-two from the Bulldogs’ 13-yard line in for six with 10:31 left in the half.
    Another three-and-out, another Du Quoin touchdown. Chandler Stevenson got in on the action, catching a screen pass from quarterback Caleb Vogel and dashing into the end zone from 12 yards out with 6:25 to go in the second quarter.
    The game’s theme was finally altered on Sparta’s next possession, but not in the way the Bulldogs would have preferred. Jones picked off a pitch intended for a Bulldog back and took it in for a 3-yard defensive touchdown for a 41-0 lead after Kameron Johnson’s extra point. Johnson was 6-for-7 on extra points for the game, making him 12-for-13 on kicks in the past two weeks.
    Completing the scoring for Du Quoin, Dakota Norris took a punt return 35 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Donovan Cole broke a 58-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Sparta’s long score was a 65-yard run play late in the game against the Indians’ back-ups.

    Fornear topped a list of six DHS running backs to get at least three carries in the game, racking up 95 yards on only 6 attempts. Cole (4-62), Clarry (5-28), Donovan McBride (7-29), Anthony Spiller (3-24) and Jaiden Provart (4-1) also took handoffs.
    “It’s just super-nice as a coach and as a play-caller to be able to mix it up that much and have six or seven guys that you can throw out there,” Hill said of his stable of backs. “They all do different things well, it’s fun to see them go out there and do it. It’s a testament to their preparation during the week. We’re asking them to do a lot of different things, play in different personnel packages. They do a good job of doing what they’re supposed to do. I think that’s what a lot of our offensive success has come from, just us executing better.”
    Vogel was 3-for-4 passing for 57 yards and a touchdown, connecting with Stevenson (1-12), Ashton Smith (1-28) and Tevin Lee (1-17). Sam Zettler led the Indians in total tackles with 5. McBride added an interception on defense late in the first half.
    After whipping their last two opponents by a combined score of 97-12, things will get tougher in the coming weeks for Du Quoin. Up next is Anna-Jonesboro (5-1, 2-1) at home this coming Friday, followed by a trip to Nashville (4-2, 2-1) in week eight. The Wildcats are fresh off a comfortable win over Pinckneyville while the Hornets got by Carterville in week six. To ensure a playoff berth, the Indians will need to win two of their final three games to get to six wins. To ensure at least a share of the Mississippi Division title, they’ll need to beat either A-J or Nashville.
    “We’ve really got to have a great week of preparation, because Anna really does a lot of things offensively that make you have to be assignment-sharp,” Hill said. “We know what we’re playing for. It’s just making sure they remember that we said at the beginning of the season we wanted to win another conference championship, wanted to make the playoffs again and win a few games. Those things are right in front of us and we’ve got three weeks left of the regular season, we’ve just got to go take it.”
    DHS will honor Southern Illinois University head football coach, former Indian, and A.J. Hill’s older brother Nick Hill at halftime of this Friday’s game by retiring both his football and basketball jerseys. The ceremony was originally scheduled for the September 16th home game, but that contest was postponed a day due to weather.

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