A pair of undefeated teams hook up when Herrin travels to Du Quoin for a prep football grudge match at 7 p.m. today.
Both the Tigers (2-0) and the Indians (2-0) have earned two road wins so far. Du Quoin trailed 14-0 at Harrisburg in Week 2, but bounced back to claim a 33-27 victory.
The Indians committed 110 yards in penalties and lost five fumbles to the Bulldogs.
“It was a sloppy game and a sloppy win, but you’re always a lot happier after a win,” said Du Quoin coach A.J. Hill. “It was a big learning experience for the team, and it showed a lot about their heart. Even when we were down 14 points, they did a good job of staying in it.”
The Tigers built a quick 21-0 lead on Carterville a week ago and went on to a 49-20 win.
“I’m proud of the guys and pleased with the effort, and they’re playing to the whistle,” said Herrin coach Jason Karnes. “We do have a lot of work to get done and some things to correct. We’ve won two games, and both of them were on the road. We’ve got a tough opponent this week on the road.”
Herrin rushed for nearly 400 yards against the Lions. Jase Gosha led the way with 163 yards on the ground.
“They are good, and they execute really well,” Hill said. “Coach Karnes is a great coach who always has his team prepared. It’s just a big challenge for our team, especially defensively. They hang their hat on the run, and they have an experienced offensive line. We’ve got to try to put them in some positions where they have to throw the ball. They have a young quarterback who is a good athlete and knows the game, and we’ve got to try to put him in some uncomfortable situations.”
The Tigers didn’t attempt a pass against Carterville because they didn’t have to. That could change soon.
“The way we were controlling the line of scrimmage, there wasn’t really a need to pass the ball,” Karnes said. “But looking back on it, we could have thrown the ball six or seven times last Friday. But that’s on me, and we’ll move forward. When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad.”
After scoring five rushing touchdowns and running for more than 200 yards in Week 1, Du Quoin quarterback Hank Stewart had a more balanced game at Harrisburg. Stewart threw for 128 yards with two scores and rushed for 79 yards.
“I thought Hank did a great job,” Hill said. “He kept some plays alive with some passes and made some plays with his feet. He picked up a few important first downs for us. He made some big plays, and he had a little connection going with Ashton Smith. Hank looked comfortable and poised, and he did a good job of leading.”
Smith caught eight passes for 99 yards and intercepted a pass in the final minute with Harrisburg driving in Week 2.
Karnes expects a much cleaner game out the Indians this week.
“Watching the Du Quoin and Harrisburg film, that’s very uncharacteristic of a Du Quoin team to have that many penalties and turnovers,” Karnes said. “I’m sure they’ll have those corrected. When you line up against a Du Quoin team, you’ve got to do things correctly because they’re not usually going to beat themselves.”
Hill believes his defense is making strides.
“I think they have improved every week,” Hill said of his defensive unit. “Last week in the second half, we made a couple of adjustments, and Harrisburg didn’t get a first down until halfway through the fourth quarter. They are still a little green at a few positions in terms of playing experience, and they’re going to get better as the season goes on. Last year, we did a good job of improving defensively from Week 2 to Week 3, and I expect the same this year.”