HEYWORTH — On Friday, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Heyworth football teams will meet in a battle of undefeated teams.
Both teams are 2-0 overall as GCMS also boasts a 1-0 record in the Heart of Illinois Conference Large Division while Heyworth has a 1-0 mark in the HOIC Small Division.
“Any game in the HOIC is going to be tough game. Heyworth has a lot of confidence and is playing well,” GCMS head coach Mike Allen said. “Their offense is explosive and their defense is very stingy, so we’ll have our work cut out for us. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the game on Friday.”
The Falcons, who were ranked No. 1 in Class 2A prior to week two, are coming off two wins against 3A teams, including last Friday’s 35-10 victory over the No. 2-ranked 3A team in Eureka.
“The guys are playing with a lot of confidence right now. We don’t have any serious injuries, so our kids are confident, but they know they want to correct and get better at some little things, some little mistakes that they made last Friday night, which, in the long run, will make our team better,” Allen said. “This week, we’re really going to focus on trying to make ourselves better and focus on some of the things that we didn’t do correctly last Friday night and try to improve on those this week in practice.”
Dawson Brooks passed for three touchdowns for Heyworth in a 34-6 victory last Friday over Monmouth United. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 259 yards.
In a 22-6 victory over El Paso-Gridley, Brooks had 127 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“He’s very explosive,” Allen said. “He’s a very quick, elusive runner.”
Ryan Graves caught three passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns against United while Wyatt Cotton had three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown and Chase Ditchen rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Ditchen also had a pair of touchdown runs against EP-G.
The Hornets combined to score 56 points over the course of two games being a spread offense.
“A lot of different guys touch the ball,” Allen said. “Coach Derek Logue does a nice job of keeping the defense off balance between the run and pass. The quarterback is very smart.”
The offense also includes some run-pass option plays, according to Allen.
“We’ll have to be prepared for those things,” Allen said.
Allen also knows the Heyworth defense, which has yielded only 12 points through its first two games, is dangerous as well.
“We know their personnels and schemes, so we know their defensive line is very stingy and their linebackers are very aggressive. They get downhill,” Allen said. “Their defensive backs are very aggressive. They’re not really tall, but they’re really feisty. They take away the outside run game. They come up very aggressive and take that away. We’re going to have to combat that and do something different.”
The Falcons will also deal with one circumstance they did not have to face in their first two games — playing on the road.
“We’re ready to go on the road and see how we can play on the road,” Allen said. “It’s been nice having the first two games at home, but you’re going to be going on the road, and you have to get used to it. Hopefully, that will just be a small adjustment that we have to make and how we set things up.”
Despite GCMS winning its first two games against highly-touted 3A teams, Allen said he knows there is room for improvement.
“We’re really focusing on us,” Allen said.
Among the things he hopes to see improved are the team’s footwork and blocking.
“We’re really going to push our offensive linemen this week to block until the whistle blows,” Allen said. “We’re making that good initial contact, but we want to stay engaged until the whistle blows.”
Allen is also looking for improvements in the defense’s angles in stunt rushing and blitzing.
“We’re trying to get in there and disrupt their offense — we have to get better at just little things like that,” Allen said. “The good thing is it’s things that we can correct.”