Collectively, the Columbia Eagles’ five senior offensive linemen weigh just under 1,300 pounds and answer to the nickname “Monsters.”
This incredibly large and scary bunch includes left tackle Auggie Hengel 6-foot-4, 265 pounds), left guard Jake Stone (6-0, 255); center Dakota Meyers (5-11, 260); right guard Connor Little (5-10, 250) and right tackle Corey Hornbostel (6-2, 245).
They are quite capable of paving a highway for running backs and building a wall in front of senior quarterback Drew Huebner.
“They did exactly what we expected them to do last week and what I’m hoping they continue to do all said,” said Columbia coach Scott Horner, whose team ran the ball 30 times for 284 yards last week in a 49-0 win over Wood River to help Horner collect his 100th career victory. “They’re pretty big dudes and they move pretty well. They get people off the ball and control the line of scrimmage.”
Friday’s Game: Columbia (1-0) at Waterloo (0-1), 7 p.m.
Rankings: Columbia is tied for second in the BND Small-School Rankings and ninth in the 4A state rankings.
Last meeting: Waterloo, 4-1 against Columbia the last five years, beat the Eagles27-24 in overtime last year in a game that spanned two days because of lightning.
Waterloo coach Dan Rose said his team is typically smaller than Columbia on the line. Controlling the trenches will be huge in this annual Route 3 football rivalry that breeds intensity and excitement on both sides.
“They are always bigger than us up front,” Rose said. “That’s something you always want as a coach. When you get a line ful lof seniors, that’s always a good thing. If you can eliminate the big plays and not give them a short field to work with, that’s a big key to the game.
“If you give them a short field they’re going to make you pay.”
Columbia hit Wood River for three TDs in a 22-second span early in the second quarter, believed to be a school record.
Along with Huebner (6-of-7, 77 yards, one TD) at quarterback, the Eagles rely on running backs Kenny Fields (seven carries, 85 yards, two TDs) and receivers Lamont Read, Chris Wagner, Jonathan Holmes, Jordan Holmes and Mitch Daniels.
Horner liked what Huebner did in his first start.
“We’re a read option kind of team and he’s got the ability to give or keep it on almost every play we run,” Horner said.
Second-half turnovers were costly last week in Waterloo’s 40-19 loss to Herrin. The Bulldogs held a 19-13 lead early in the second half when turnovers piled up along with Herrin’s touchdowns.
“Turnovers led to 24 points last Friday,” Rose said. “That’s something that we cannot do against a team as good as Herrin and against a team as good as Columbia. I liked how we moved the ball. We had 200 yards passing and ran it effectively when we had to.”
Waterloo has an experienced quarterback in senior Aaron Laskowski (113-of-22 for 204 yards and one TD) and a strong running threat in Max Jennings (15 carries, 53 yards). Top receivers are Mitchell Gladney (seven catches, 96 yards) and Hayden Bender (two catches, 86 yards).
Route 3 Rivalry
“The records are out the window,” Horner said. “What each team has done in Week 1, whether they won or lost or how they played means nothing. Their kids will be jacked, our kids are jacked and it’s going to be a dogfight like it always is.”