EUREKA – With the speed they possess at the skill positions, Eureka could be in line for a few breakaway plays when they head east to meet El Paso-Gridley in a large division Heart of Illinois Conference matchup, Kickoff is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
With the EP-G (2-3, 0-2) field being artificial turf, that could magnify the Hornets’ speed advantage.
“There’s no doubt we like playing on the turf. Hopefully, it will be to our advantage,” stated Eureka head coach Jason Bachman. “In the games we’ve won, we’ve won the big play battle. That’s one of things I look at.”
Eureka (4-1, 1-1) is riding a three-game winning streak, while the Titans (2-3) are coming off a 20-14 victory at Tremont that took two days to complete. EP-G has dropped two of three home contests. Senior quarterback Dilynn Gray has thrown for 577 yards, but tossed three interceptions in a 35-6 defeat to guest Tri-Valley in week four.
“They’re in the pro style spread,” said Bachman of the Titans’ offensive scheme. “I think they’ll try to throw the ball on us because our run defense has been good. We have to put pressure on the quarterback. Jared Farney and Joel Baer have a good job pressing the quarterback.”
Senior Zach Herr has moved from quarterback into the backfield. Their line is led by seniors Ethan Faulk (270 pounds) and Ethan Kiefer (245). EP-G has scored 64 points on the season.
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Defensively, senior linebacker Hunter Armstrong is the top returnee. Through five games, the Titans have allowed 91 points. According to Bachman, the Titans vary between a 4-3 and 4-4 look.
The Hornets will try to duplicate the start this past week when they scored the first 42 points against Ridgeview/Lexington. According to Bachman, Eureka has not yet its stride.
“If we can attack early…,” forecasted Bachman. “This is where we’ve supposed to be all year. We still have room for growth. I think we have more good football in us.”
He listed juniors Logan Allen (ankle) and Conner McDonald (bone bruise on foot) both probable for Friday.
Former Illinois State quarterback Luke Drone is in his first season as head coach at EP-G. In 2018, they were 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the division. The Hornets lead the all-time series two to one, which included a 35-12 triumph a season ago.
Notes: Drone, a native of downstate Mt. Carmel, served as an assistant at his alma mater, as well as for two seasons at Bloomington. While with the Purple Raiders, Drone was their offensive coordinator. He was hired to replace Eureka College graduate Stephen Rigsby.