HIGHLAND — The Highland Bulldogs were bigger, faster and more experienced than the Du Quoin Indians. The Bulldogs parlayed those advantages into a 44-0 win over Du Quoin in Friday's opening game.
How dominant were the Bulldogs?
Highland rushed for 169 first-half yards and quarterback Mack Waldman threw for another 243. Waldman completed all five of his pass attempts.
"They're a good ballclub," said Du Quoin coach Al Martin. "We've got a lot of work to do. We ran into a very good opponent.
"Their offense is really a good offense. They'll run the ball at you and then play action. They've got receivers. We knew what kind of passing attack they had from this summer."
In the meantime, Du Quoin had just 31 yards total offense. The Indians didn't pick up a first down until Lane Valier's 4-yard gain on the final play of the half.
By that time the Indians were on the short end of a 38-0 score.
It was hard to determine which Highland unit was more dominant, the offense or the defense.
"Offense, defense, special teams, it was a total team victory," said Highland coach Jim Warnecke.
The Bulldogs scored on all six possessions in the first half, three touchdowns in the first quarter, three in the second.
Highland set the tone on its first possession, going 74 yards on just six plays. The Bulldogs got on the board on Waldman's first pass, a 34-yard strike to Logan Geiger.
The Bulldogs quick score capability was highlighted on the next drive. Gage Geiger capped a four-play, 74 yard drive with a 4-yard run. However, he had a 29-yard run during that drive and Andrew Winning had a 33-yard run.
"It all starts up front," Warnecke said. "I think our tailback Gage Geiger said it the best when he called out the lineman there at the end when he said, 'It makes our job easier when you do what you do up front.'
"Our quarterback Matt Waldman never got touched. It all starts with the big guys up front."
And, Warnecke opened up the playbook on the Bulldogs' third score as Logan Geiger went 76 yards up the middle on a shovel pass from Waldman.
The first quarter, and essentially the game, ended with a 19-0 score.
"We were just going to try to slow the game down a little bit," Martin said. "We're pretty inexperienced right now. Their lineman, they've got a very balanced football team, a very strong football team."
Highland scored on its first possession of the second half, a 7-yard run by Geiger, to set the continuous clock in motion. It marked the first time since 2009 that Du Quoin has fallen victim to a running clock.
Winning ran for 166 yards on just 10 carries. Geiger tacked on another 66.
In the meantime, Du Quoin produced just 108 total yards.