Two years ago the Carbondale Terriers football team defeated the Waterloo Bulldogs 28-14 in a Week 3 matchup.
The Terriers went on to finish their 2019 season with an 8-2 record that matched their win total from the year prior, but now return in Week 3 hoping history can repeat itself.
Both teams enter Friday night’s showdown at Frank Bleyer Field with a fresh slate. Carbondale (1-1) fell to Jackson County rival Murphysboro in a triple overtime thriller back in Week 1, but found a way to bounce back in Week 2 with a 45-20 victory over Granite City in a game the Terriers trailed 20-14 at halftime.
“We’re a young team this year,” said Carbondale defensive coordinator Ben Campos with head coach Bryan Lee unavailable for comment this week. “Going to three overtimes against Murphysboro in our first game was really the first time a lot of our kids had to play with something on the line.
“I think that carried over into the first half against Granite City before our defense really stepped up in the second half.”
Carbondale’s strength going into the season was its size and experience on the offensive and defensive line mixed with senior running back Gabe Hilliard.
Hilliard is fresh off a 175 yard rushing performance against Granite City where he finished with three total touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) and 96 receiving yards. No. 7 is a number Waterloo coach Dan Rose said he’s keeping an eye on this Friday. He also noted sophomore running back Martez Graham and Carbondale’s receiving group of seniors: Demarcus Funchess, Lamark Threadgill and William Skiles.
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“They have a very big line with fast and quick athletes,” Rose said on Wednesday. “We faced size and athleticism against Mater Dei and Columbia, but we haven’t been to Carbondale in two years.
“They have a really nice facility and the Carbondale high school staff always has great hospitality. Win or lose, we feel welcome. Carbondale defends their home field well and we know it is their home opener... they will be ready to play.”
Carbondale’s offensive line features senior left guard Ricky Madison, junior tackle Aiden Taylor, junior right guard Javion Kizer and sophomore center Harper Brown. They’ll be tasked with opening rushing lanes for Hilliard and protecting sophomore quarterback Brock Bowlby.
The Terriers’ defensive line with senior nose tackle Jordan Lopez and junior defensive end Malik Crane-Walker, who has played “lights out” through the first two weeks according to Campos. They’ll have to slow down Waterloo’s offense that utilizes tailback Jack McFarlane — a shifty 5-foot-9 senior listed at 145 pounds, and senior powerback Evan Davis, who Campos has already taken notice of.
“Waterloo is a really disciplined, fast and physical team,” said Campos. “(Davis) can really run and crush through tackles. When we played them two years ago they played a Wing-T formation, but are now playing a little bit more of a spread offense which is a nice thing for us because it allows our kids to rally to the ball.”
Campos hopes the defense he saw rally in the second half against Granite City is the same defense he gets against Waterloo. The Bulldogs bounced back from a loss to Mater Dei (31-13) in Week 1 with a 49-6 blowout win over Columbia in Week 2.
“We just executed better in Game 2 as compared to Game 1,” said Rose. “Our defense has been able to score in both of our games.”
Carbondale is scheduled for its first South Seven matchup in Week 4 against Centralia (2-0), but Campos knows the team can’t look that far ahead.
“The first two weeks were about our kids getting used to the Friday night lights,” said Campos. “We’ve been focused on polishing our offensive and defensive alignments because we have to play sound and disciplined against Waterloo.
“They play us so tough that we can’t worry about anyone else.”