Their statistics say it. Their offensive line thrives on it. Their coach believes in it.
And when it comes to running the football, the Camp Point Central-Southeastern Panthers (12-0) aren't disguising anything. They're going to pound the ball on the ground with their double-wing offense and dare teams to stop them.
They have 3,920 yards rushing, average 7.6 yards per carry and have 58 rushing touchdowns. Leading the charge are star running backs Dalton Heubner (1,505 yards, 11 yards per carry, 22 TDs) and Douglas Weese (1,098 yards, 8 yards per carry, 18 TDs).
"No one's really been able to shut us down," Central-Southeastern coach Brad Dixon said. "Maybe an individual player here and there, but not our whole team. Against Cerro Gordo (a 33-13 second-round playoff win) we ran the same play 30 times, just giving it to the fullback.
"We're not fancy, we're totally happy with four yards a carry. We're firm believers in time of possession."
Dixon said the Althoff defense should pose the toughest test his team has seen.
In three playoff wins Althoff (9-3) has allowed 315 rushing yards on 87 carries (3.6 yards), with 99 yards of that total on two long TD runs last week by Casey-Westfield.
"The strength of our defense is our run game, so it should be a battle in the trenches," Althoff coach Ken Turner said. "They want to run it and we feel like we can stop the run."
Waiting in the heart of the Althoff defense are 6-foot-3, 340-pound defensive tackle and Illinois recruit Merrick Jackson, 6-4, 240-pound Division I linebacker recruit Erik Furmanek (146 tackles) and linebackers Zach Donaldson (92 tackles) and Brett Silvestri (65 tackles).
"We know it's going to be tough sledding against Althoff on because they've got some big guys and they really haven't given up much in the way of rushing," said Dixon, whose team has maintained offensive possession for at least 32 out of 48 minutes in its three playoff victories. "Any time we can go on those long drives, we're able to keep the opponent's offense off the field. That's going to have to be a point of emphasis this week against Althoff."
Turner knows his defense has to stop the run or face a long afternoon of watching the chain gang move up and down the sidelines.
"Counters, traps, fullback dives. ... There's no secret what they're going to do," Turner said. "They want to try to run the ball straight at us. They just want to get three yards and keep moving the chains; it's kind of like the old style football where they just want to continue to get first downs and hope they break a long one --and keep it away from our offense."
A 12-0 record doesn't suggest an underdog role, but that's where Dixon believes his team is against Althoff.
That record includes the only loss handed to 1A semifinalist Concord Triopia this season (33-22 on Sept. 28), 20-6 over 10-2 Carrollton, 33-13 over 10-1 Cerro Gordo and 35-28 last week over Du Quoin.
"We've heard it all through the playoffs that our schedule was not very tough," Dixon said. "We may have been favored in round one even though we were undefeated, but all the teams we've played have been bigger than us or played bigger schedules. It's something we've rallied around."
Turner said the goal for Althoff is to take Central-Southeastern out of its comfort zone.
"The three teams we just played had enough of a passing game to keep it honest," Turner said. "With these guys their mentality is that they're going to run at us no matter what. We know if they're passing, then we're doing a good job on defense."
Saturday's game: Camp Point Central-Southeastern (12-0) vs. Althoff (9-3) at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville, 2 p.m. (watch the game at wwww.ihsa.tv/althoff)
Central-Southeastern players to watch: RB-LB Dalton Heubner (130 carries for 1,505 yards, 22 TDs; 6 catches for 134 yards, 4 TDs; 53 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 Ints.); RB-LB Douglas Weese (136 carries for 1,098 yards, 18 TDs; 6 catches for 148 yards, 2 TDs; 110 tackles); RB Bobby Keltz (159 carries for 728 yards, 8 TDs); QB Seth Leezer (18-for-46 for 434 yards, 8 TDs, 3 Ints.); LB Andrew Shake (81 tackles); DL Drew Miller (70 tackles, 6 sacks).
Althoff players to watch: WR-RB Garland Henley (32 catches for 649 yards, 9 TDs; 85 carries for 380 yards rushing, 5 TDs); RB Dennis Jackson (208 carries for 892 yards, 11 TDs; 14 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD); QB Eric Mertens (153-for-272 for 2,204 yards, 19 TDs, 16 Ints.); WR-RB Nick Hawthorne (36 catches for 487 yards, 6 TDs; 34 carries for 278 yards rushing, 3 TDs); LB-OL Erik Furmanek (146 tackles, 4 Ints.); DL Merrick Jackson (67 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 Int.); LB Zach Donaldson (92 tackles, 4 Ints.)
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.