RANTOUL – It is no secret to coach Trevor Lehnen and his Rantoul football team that the Eagles might not be the biggest team on the field every week.
In fact, the players admit they are slightly undersized.
But who needs size when you have lightning-fast offensive threats?
The Eagles certainly proved this to be true Friday night as they edged Prairie Central 27-26 in a hard-fought homecoming victory at Bill Walsh Field.
"Our offense and defense are both based around speed," Lehnen said. "It definitely showed up tonight and it was real nice to see."
And while the Eagles' offense got the headlines, the defense's stand with six minutes to play preserved a a one-point lead.
Rantoul's exceptional team speed was apparent from the get-go.
Prairie Central's Mitchell McDonald threw a 22-yard score to Chase Mowrey to open the scoring.
Then Rantoul's Taveria Lawrence returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards, and the Eagles took a 7-6 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We were down by six and I was just trying to get us back in the game," Lawrence said.
Lawrence the tailback also compiled a team-high 99 yards on the ground.
Senior receiver Andre Taylor took two nearly identical screen passes in for touchdowns in the second and third quarters to help Rantoul's offensive attack.
"We are really built around speed," said Taylor, who finished with 85 yards receiving. "We don't have the best size around here so we have to be fast. Our blocking was great today. The wide receivers and offensive line all did a great job for us."
Senior quarterback Joe Horn led a methodical Eagles offense.
After being sent to the sidelines for a series after a third-quarter scare, Horn was back out for the next series and finished 10-of-15 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
"The blockers got good blocks out there to set up screen passes," Horn said. "We were able to find holes and execute. I hurt my finger a little bit, but I wanted to get back out there and play right away."
The loss drops Prairie Central to 0-6 on the season. Hawks coach Brian Hassett was clearly upset with his team's performance after the game.
"We lost, and the bottom line is we need to get better," he said.
The Eagles improved to 2-4.
"They played with one heart tonight," Lehnen said. "And that's what we are looking for here at Rantoul."