ARCOLA – The good old days of winning football appear to be back at Arcola.
Senior quarterback Mark Klinger completed a busy Friday by running for 81 yards and three touchdowns and passing for another 161 to lead the Purple Riders to a 41-12 Little Okaw Valley Conference win against Villa Grove. Klinger had shot a 78 in the first round of the Class A state golf tournament at Prairie Vista in Bloomington earlier in the day.
"I'm too excited to be tired," Klinger said after the third Purple Rider victory in eight days for a 7-1 overall record to assure them of their second straight playoff berth. It also clinches a tie for the LOVC title with a 6-0 record with a game at Cerro Gordo (5-1 in the LOVC) remaining.
"I didn't think about the game at all while playing golf. I just went out and had a lot of fun. I just want to go out and enjoy myself on Saturday regardless of how I shoot."
The Purple Riders certainly enjoyed themselves Friday evening as they scored on their first three possessions to bolt to a 20-0 lead midway through the second period. Beau Fishel completed a 74-yard drive with a 12-yard run for the first TD. Klinger circled right from the 5 to climax a 61-yard drive for the second. Klinger's 33-yard pass to Fishel and his 10-yard scramble set up Cameron Anderson's 2-yard plunge for the third. Klinger added a 43-yard scoring run to increase the Rider lead to 27-6 at halftime. Anderson scored on a 4-yard run and Klinger on a 2-yard sneak in the second half.
"We wanted to come out and put them down early," Klinger said after completing 8 of his 10 passes and had another catch by Zac Ozee in the end zone ruled a trap. "I thought it was complete, but it didn't make any difference. We scored on the next play, and that's more important than any individual record. Our offense has progressed every week except one. Opponents have been keying on our running game so we have become more balanced by passing more."
Arcola coach Jarod Kiger felt the Purple Rider defense played a big role in the win.
"It was a great win for the team," Kiger said. "We didn't want winning the conference title left in anyone else's hands. The defense played tough. We knew they had size, but we have some pretty good big kids as well. (Blue Devil running back Rob) Renfrow is a hard-nosed runner, but we held him in check (127 yards on 22 carries). I can't say enough about our players. The (defensive) line was well prepared. They had some keys and they focused on them.
"I can't say enough about Klinger either. You know what you are going to get every night. It takes a special kid to compete in two sports and be great in both."
Senior tackle Daniel Torres said the Riders were confident going into the game despite Villa Grove's size advantage,
"We had no doubts that we would win," Torres said. "We are a very smart group. We usually knew the plays from the way they lined up. We knew what the play would be every time (the Devils wing back) went in motion. Renfrow is pretty good. He hits the hole hard and he's hard to grab and keep hold of without him slipping away. This win feels pretty good. People have had their doubts about us all season, but we are proving them wrong."