ST. JOSEPH — Austin Hedrick didn’t have to carry the St. Joseph-Ogden offense.
Dalton Walsh, Hunter Hart, Orion Ciota, Connor Janes and others made sure the Spartans’ running back wouldn’t rush more than 40 times for the third straight week, leading the Spartans to a 47-14 victory against Watseka.
“I’m sure it was nice for him to get a little bit of a break,” Walsh said of the senior, who still managed 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. “We knew we had better athletes on the outside than them. We really wanted to attack them going for the long ball, and my receivers did a good job running by them.”
Walsh completed 4 of 9 passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns, with Hart catching two passes for 56 yards. Both his receptions went for touchdowns. Janes turned a short shovel pass from Walsh into a 38-yard touchdown while Ciota made 7 of 9 extra- point attempts and added 77 rushing yards on two carries, which included a 47-yard touchdown run to cap off the Spartans’ scoring.
With still more than three minutes left in the second quarter.
It wasn’t just the offense, either.
Jake Stewart had two punt returns of 38 yards for the Spartans, the second of which resulted in a touchdown, and Wyatt Sage blocked a punt to help SJ-O become playoff eligible.
“We take huge pride in our special teams,” SJ-O coach Dick Duval said. “We spend a lot of time on it. I get asked to speak at clinics on it. They call them special teams, and we want them to be special.”
The Spartans scored on seven of their first eight possessions, led 47-0 at halftime and played their backups the entire second half.
Austin Hasselbring rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries to lead the Warriors, who were outgained 326-176 in terms of total offense.
“The same plays we did on offense and defense the first half, we did the second half, but we looked like world-beaters the second half,” Watseka coach Steve Lucas said. “I hope it’s not that they’re scared, but it sure looked like it. St. Joe is a great program. I told all their coaches at the end they’re a class act for pulling the dogs off of us.”
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
Clifton Central 4 0 7 0
St. Joseph-Ogden 4 1 5 2
Momence 3 1 5 2
Paxton-Buckley-Loda 2 2 4 3
St. Thomas More 2 3 4 3
Iroquois West 0 4 1 6
Watseka 0 4 1 6
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Iroquois West at St. Thomas More
Clifton Central at Watseka
Paxton-Buckley-Loda at Momence
NEXT SATURDAY’S GAME
Monmouth-Roseville at St. Joseph-Ogden