DECATUR - For most of the preseason, the Bloomington High School football team was searching for an answer to a transparent question: Who would run the football in the season opener? The reply came with an unexpected twist.
Behind a three-headed rushing attack and a physical defense, the Purple Raiders extended their season-opener winning streak to 10 with a 42-0 victory over Decatur MacArthur at Matheson Field.
It was the first shutout in a season opener for BHS since 2001.
"I'm impressed that all three of the tailbacks and the running backs were able to see the field and make positive things happen," BHS coach Rigo Schmelzer said. "We know we've got talent there, but we have to find somebody to step forward."
The step shouldn't be large.
The top three running backs in Erik Wilson, Darian Davis, and Darrelynn Dunn combined for 163 yards on 17 carries. All told, the BHS rushing attack ran 42 times for 245 yards, a 5.8 yards-per-carry average.
"The running backs did a great job," said quarterback Stephen Esch, who ran seven times for 25 yards and a touchdown. "They're all working hard and they're making our team better."
BHS (1-0 overall and in the Big 12) scored four touchdowns on six possessions in the first half. Of the four scores, three took two plays to reach the end zone.
With the offense barreling its way down the field, the defense kept MacArthur's option attack frustrated. The Generals (0-1, 0-1) gained only 56 yards in the first half with two turnovers.
"I think (MacArthur's) offense kind of lent them to it," Schmelzer said. "They're not very diversified; they're limited with what they were doing with the pass. It became easier for us to crowd in."
MacArthur finished with 106 yards of total offense and only seven first downs.
"We had some new kids playing for the first time on Friday night," MacArthur coach Jed Kennedy said. "It showed."
And BHS took advantage.
Of its 10 offensive drives, eight began inside General territory. Three began inside the 35-yard line.
"The field position was great," Esch said. "If you have good field position, your offense tends to do a lot better."
Davis led the Raiders with 88 yards rushing on 12 carries. Dunn rushed three times for 52 yards with two touchdowns.
David Cook and Justin Zoeller each caught touchdown passes from Esch.
The Raiders, who fumbled once, committed no turnovers and never punted.
"We have to work on our punting game because we'll probably have to punt next week," said Schmelzer, whose team faces Normal Community at 7 p.m. next Friday at Hancock Stadium.