GIBSON CITY — Mere moments before the Fisher and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football teams turned toward their respective locker rooms Friday, lightning flashed in the north.
It wasn’t enough to hinder the Heart of Illinois Conference crossover game.
Just an ominous presence overseeing action.
A different brand of lightning — and it’s accompanying thunder — made an impact long before those bolts struck beyond the Falcons’ field.
Aidan Laughery and Payton Kean combined for 208 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, effectively pairing with a bruising GCMS defense as the Falcons doused the Bunnies 42-0.
“They call it lightning and thunder is what I’ve been hearing,” Kean said with a laugh, referencing alleged nicknames for Laughery and himself. “With his speed and my power, it’s truly unreal. It’s great to be part of it.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Laughery blitzed to 160 yards, significantly aided by a 77-yard scoring plunge in the second quarter and further boosted by a 9-yarder later in that stanza.
The 5-9, 200-pound Kean, meanwhile, bulled forward for 48 yards and end zone dashes of 5 and 22 yards.
“You can’t focus on one,” GCMS coach Mike Allen said. “Last week I made a mistake and ran Aidan too many times and Payton not enough. ... This week we mixed it up a lot more.”
The previous outing, a 14-6 loss to Fieldcrest, ended a 31-matchup win streak for the Falcons (4-1).
That wasn’t on the minds of Allen’s boys, evidenced by the forcing of a running clock in the fourth period and the completion of GCMS’s first shutout this year.
“It was really all just about bouncing back — creating our own legacy on this team,” Kean said. “The streak, it wasn’t our streak. We leave it in the past.”
The Falcons also left behind Fisher (3-2) on the scoreboard after Kean kiboshed a scoreless tie with 1 minute, 53 seconds to play in the first quarter.
From there, GCMS compiled a 35-0 advantage before threatening weather started to appear on the horizon.
“We’re just not executing. We’re not doing the things we’re coached to do every single play, and when we don’t do that it showed,” Bunnies boss Jake Palmer said. “We had some blown coverages that resulted in big plays for them.”
Among those was a 59-yard touchdown connection between Falcons quarterback Cade Elliott and rusher Isaish Chatman, during which a pair of Fisher athletes collided trying to stall Chatman’s progress.
Bunnies bellcow Tyler Wilson, less than a week removed from a 442-yard effort with his feet in a win over Madison, mustered just 29 yards. Fisher as a whole executed one double-digit yardage play before intermission. Jordan Lee’s eight tackles and one interception keyed the GCMS stoppers.
“I’m confused where this team’s at right now,” Palmer said. “The ceiling for this group’s extremely high, but I also think that the floor is really low, and we’re going to find out here in the next four weeks which one it’s going to be.”
The Falcons’ picture is a more positive one at the moment, showing them one victory away from postseason qualification after consecutive Class 2A state championships.
“We were tough (on the players) and expected a little more out of them, and they rose to the occasion,” Allen said. “With Aidan back there running the ball well, Payton, Isaiah, and then Cade throwing the ball well, when all of those aspects of the game work we can be pretty tough.”
Before a trip to Tri-Valley for Week 6, however, GCMS’s youngsters have Saturday’s homecoming dance to prepare for.
Does the previous night’s outcome make that formal event a little more enjoyable?
“Homecoming’s always better after the win,” Kean said, “dancing harder and, as Coach says, the girls are prettier.”
GCMS 42, Fisher 0
Fisher 0 0 0 0 —0
GCMS 14 21 0 7 —42
G — Kean 6 run (conversion failed)
G — Laughery 77 run (Kean run)
G — Chatman 59 pass (Daniels kick)
G — Kean 23 run (Daniels kick)
G — Laughery 10 run (Daniels kick)
G — Zumwalt 5 run (Daniels kick)
RUSHING — Fisher 34-57 (Wilson 12-29). GCMS 42-273 (Aidan Laughery 15-160).
PASSING — Fisher 13-59 (Delaney 4-12-54). GCMS 3-113 (Cade Elliott 2-3-113).
TACKLES — Fisher (Wilson 10). GCMS (Jordan Lee 8 (1 sack)).