DeKalb's ground game stings Waubonsie Valley
The spring football season, the first in the state's history, is at the halfway mark.
Wins and losses aside, is it meeting expectations?
"It's been better than I thought it would be," said DeKalb senior running back Tucker Ikens, who led the Barbs to a 31-12 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Waubonsie Valley on Saturday afternoon.
"Every day you get to come out and play football, and getting back to it has been great and fun," said Ikens, a converted linebacker who rushed 18 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and looked like a pinball in the process.
Across the field, Waubonsie Valley senior running back Justin Stokes thought likewise. In fact, you'd think he was striving for a playoff berth, which is too bad, since there is no state series this spring.
"It's fun playing with the guys," said Stokes, who rushed four times for 51 yards Saturday. "I feel like as far as coaches and players, we've got to come together and figure out more solutions to get everybody involved, you know?"
This game had the feel of a sun-splashed fall afternoon, with temperatures in the high 60s and a DeKalb running game that pounded the ball repeatedly into the line, gashing the Warriors for 311 yards on 44 total carries for a grand total of seven yards per carry. In addition to Ikens' production, senior quarterback Trenton Kyler added 15 rushes for 82 yards, while junior back Toriano Tate contributed 42 yards on five touches.
That allowed the Barbs to stake themselves to a 17-0 lead with 5:12 left in the first half, with Ikens scoring twice on the ground, and a 28-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Ethan Tierney.
Waubonsie (1-2, 1-2), though, made things a little more interesting before the end of the half as junior quarterback Nathan Pappas found junior receiver Tyler Helbing for a four-yard touchdown well after the halftime buzzer sounded.
But DeKalb put the game away by scoring on both of its drives to start the second half to improve to 2-0 after missing a week due to a game cancellation.
DeKalb coach Keith Snyder is enjoying himself, but he said the season hasn't been a walk in the park.
"It's hard," he said. "Day to day when you've got a kid who's not feeling well and you have to go through the contact tracing. It's hard that kids don't know if they're guaranteed games. It's been difficult the whole way around. This has been a hard season."
Contrast those sentiments with those of Waubonsie Valley coach Tom Baumgartner. Is the season meeting expectations?
"Oh, 100 percent," he said. "Just to get the kids out here doing something after the last year or so of being shut down and then not having, it's been awesome."
Baumgartner was thrilled with the efforts of junior running back Jabron Lee, who rushed 15 times for 120 yards and scored a 34-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.