M-S defense dominant. Ask Rantoul
RANTOUL — Mahomet-Seymour’s football defense doesn’t rest. They may not be on the field all the time and they aren’t even always playing football, but that doesn’t mean they’re idle.
As a collective group, they keep competing. All 11 of the defensive starters on the unbeaten and state-ranked (fifth in Class 4A) M-S team play at least one other sport.
It’s a policy that football coach Keith Pogue — whose squad overpowered Rantoul 62-8 Friday night at Bill Walsh Field — not only supports but also encourages.
“That’s the way we want it,” Pogue said. “We want to share our kids. We want them competing in other sports.
“It’s pretty common for us. We do a good job as coaches of working together. Nic (DiFilippo, baseball coach), Chad (Benedict, basketball coach) and Rob (Ledin, wrestling coach) go out of their way to coordinate camps and activities with me. If we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to share those athletes. It helps each other’s program.”
The best part about the Bulldogs’ defensive stalwarts is the experience they bring.
“Last year, we had six sophomores start on the defense, and we still made the playoffs,” Pogue said. “All those kids are back and are really solid. The result is more football savvy and experience.
“You can’t replace that kind of experience. They can react more quickly and don’t panic when things happen.”
There’s plenty of variation on what else the defensive starters do during other parts of the school year.
Along the front line, James Sexton and Andrew Franklin both participate in track and field. Franklin also plays basketball. Jordan Geese is a wrestler, and Chandler Stranc is a lacrosse player.
The linebacking corps features basketball players such as Grant Farchmin and Daniel Roberson. Farchmin, Thomas Bane and Boyd Roberts are all in track. Bane also wrestles.
The secondary includes a standout trio of baseball players, Cully Day, Tyler Francisco and Andy Livingston.
As an overall unit, Pogue said, “They’ve done a dynamite job. We feel real confident with those core groups and how they are coming together.”
Through four games, the Bulldogs had allowed the fewest number of points of any Corn Belt Conference school, despite not posting a shutout. The defensive average was 10.0.
Many of those same players — plus junior quarterback Joe Kenney (a two-time All-Area baseball player — are standouts on the offensive platoon as well.
M-S became playoff eligible for the 12th consecutive year with its Corn Belt Conference decision over the winless Eagles.
Francisco, Day and Daniel Roberson scored two touchdowns each in the first half as the Bulldogs raced ahead 49-0.
“We wanted to score as fast as we could so we could get the clock moving and let some of our younger players play,” Pogue said. “It almost worked.”
The Bulldogs lost Day to a shoulder injury, and his status for next week’s game against Olympia is questionable.
Rantoul moved the ball deep into M-S territory early in the second quarter, but Farchmin picked off a pass and returned it to midfield to essentially end any Eagles momentum.
“If there was a turning point in the game, that was it,” Pogue said. “We had just fumbled and they were moving the ball. Farchmin’s pick really deflated them.”
Three plays later, Francisco darted in from 12 yards out and the race was on.
Kenney completed 6 of 8 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
Terry Greene contributed to this report
Corn Belt standings
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
Mahomet-Seymour 4 0 5 0
Normal U-High 4 0 5 0
Bloomington CC 3 1 3 2
Pontiac 2 2 3 2
Eureka 1 3 1 4
Olympia 1 3 1 4
Prairie Central 1 3 1 4
Rantoul 1 3 1 4
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Rantoul at Bloomington CC
Eureka at Prairie Central
Mahomet-Seymour at Olympia
Pontiac at Normal U-High