ROCKTON— All that stands between the Hononegah football team and a perfect NIC-10 season is a winless, COVID-ravaged Jefferson team.
Just go ahead and pencil the Indians in for 9-0, and get set for the IHSA playoff bracket reveal.
The J-Hawks lost their first six games of the season, scoring just 62 points while allowing 283. It was ugly, and it was ugly every week.
Jefferson was forced to forfeit the last two games because of COVID issues on the squad, but Friday’s game is still on. At least for now.
The Indians, ranked seventh in the latest AP IHSA Class 7A poll, will try to stay sharp as the playoffs approach.
Hononegah continued to dominate its NIC-10 foes Friday, beating Auburn 44-12 as the Indians’ defensive unit laid waste to another opponent.
The Indians have surrendered just 81 points all season, and the J-Hawks aren’t expected to add much, if any to that total. A deeper glance reveals that 24 of those points came to a Freeport team that trailed 42-0 at halftime, and scored 16 fourth-quarter points.
The two teams that were competitive with Hononegah (Harlem and Boylan) combined to score over 120 points against the J-Hawks.
You get the picture. It won’t be pretty.
Hononegah coach Brian Zimmerman has a simple list of goals heading into the evening.
“Our goal offensively is to score a field goal or touchdown every drive we have,” Zimmerman said. “With how we’ve been doing and how depleted Jefferson is after not having played the last two weeks, I feel like that’s a realistic goal. Defensively, I don’t want to give up anything,”
The J-Hawks have around 20 players available for Friday’s game, and Zimmerman is hoping for a drama-free contest.
“They are starting two freshmen on their offensive line, so that’s an area I think we can have success in,” Zimmerman said. “If we can meet our offensive goals, that’s going to mean that our starters aren’t going to spend a lot of time on the field. It’s senior night, and we’d like to get plenty of those guys a lot of playing time.”
The Indians are set up for a terrific seed in the playoffs, which begin next week.
“I think we’re going to get a good seed,” Zimmerman said. “And we’ve talked to the kids about that. We’ve had some success in the past few years in the first round. But if they want to be remembered as one of the best Hononegah teams in a long time, they are going to have to advance past the second round. That’s been our issue.”
Pairings will be announced over the weekend.
• SOUTH BELOIT (5-3) at MILLEDGEVILLE (7-1): The SoBos are already in the eight-man playoffs. Now, it’s a matter of determining which seed they will receive.
Milledgeville has been a solid team all season, with its only loss coming in the season opener, a 40-38 heartbreaker to Polo.
The SoBos continue to get outstanding production out of their running game, led by Fern Balderas. South Beloit’s defense stepped to the fore last week in a 28-0 shutout of Blue Ridge. Balderas led the way with 20 tackles, while Bradley Knepper had 10, including two for loss, as well as a blocked punt.
• OREGON (2-6) at NORTH BOONE (4-4): The Vikings are fighting for their IHSA Class 2A playoff lives against an Oregon team that has logged just two wins this season.
North Boone just scored 47 points against Winnebago and will be seeking its third straight victory behind quarterback Chandler Alderman, who continues to lead the Big Northern Conference in passing despite missing some action this season.
Alderman has thrown for 1,460 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Doetch brothers have been outstanding weapons for the Vikings offense. Will Doetch leads the league in catches (68), yards (940) and touchdowns (11).
Chris Doetch has 503 yards and four touchdowns out of the backfield for North Boone.
Oregon also has a solid running back in Daniel Dominguez, who is second in the league in rushing yards with 726. The Hawks’ offensive attack is one-dimensional, as their quarterback Hunter Buchanan has only passed for 114 yards.