MINONK – While El Paso-Gridley is mostly a one-trick pony on offense, Fieldcrest has multiple weapons.
The Heart of Illinois Conference large division hosts scored four touchdowns from four different players on Oct. 19 to defeat the Titans 26-6 at Veteran’s Park to wrap up an at-large playoff bid.
Holding a 13-6 lead, the Knights (5-5, 2-3) went up 14 when Tyler McKay found Blake Bratt from five yards out midway through the third quarter. The point after from Jacob Joyal made it 20-6. McKay threw for 193 yards and three TDs, as he completed 15 of 27 passes. A combination of quality protection from the offensive line coupled with EP-G (3-6, 1-4) defenders well off the line of scrimmage of Fieldcrest receivers opened the door.
“We felt like we could take advantage of that,” commented Knights’ coach Derek Schneeman. “They’re DBs (defensive backs) were playing well back so they would not get beat deep. We took what they gave us. We went to the short underneath routes.”
The advantage ballooned to 20 when T. McKay hooked up his younger brother, Jaxon Cusac-McKay, on a seven-yarder on third-and-goal with seven minutes and 24 seconds remaining.
While the Knights were limited to 51 rushing yards in the first half, they were just shy of 100 over the second 24 minutes.
“We made some adjustments up front,” Schneeman pointed out. “We changed our blocking scheme with the inside zone when we had the H-back in. A little bit of a different look. We feel like we can wear teams down.”
EP-G tied it at six when Ryne Faulk scored on a five-yard run in the first period. The senior finished with 109 yards on 23 carries.
According to Schneeman, Faulk was the central focus of the Fieldcrest defense.
“He’s the best running back in the conference in my opinion. If they were going to beat us, it was not going be by him,” he explained. “That’s what we were preaching all week. We got better at gang tackling and getting to him not assuming we was down.”
Faulk did fumble inside the three with just over five and a half minutes left, which the Knights’ Jared Seggerman recovered.
T. McKay’s other TD toss was 25 yards to Derek May to open the scoring with 6:17 remaining in the first quarter.
While the Knights did not expect to be in must-win mode in week nine, they found a way to get into the field of 256.
“We did not want to put too much pressure on them. They understood what we had to do,” said Schneeman. “In our conference, we play good competition week in week out. There were times they got the best of us. We did not create a lot of breaks, but you have to make your own breaks. Were there games we lost where we should have won? Absolutely. I’m proud of the way we stuck together. These guys rose to the occasion.”
Kenton Castrejon had the hosts’ other TD, a six-yard run to give them a 13-6 lead after the Joyal point after.
Notes: Fieldcrest has been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons including four in Schneeman’s five years at the helm.