Auburn-Hononegah Preview 10-6-17

The stage is set for the battle for first place in the NIC-10.

ROCKTON - 6-0 against 6-0 pretty much says it all. Those records belong to Auburn and Hononegah and this Friday they'll meet in Rockton with the winner taking over sole possession of first place in the NIC-10. It's our Sports Connection game of the week.

Auburn has the NIC-10's number one defense in terms of points allowed and the conference's second ranked offense. Hononegah has the highest scoring offense and the number two defense.  It's no fluke these two teams are where they are in the standings.

What is a little surprising is the way Hononegah has morphed into a wide-open offense in its second season playing the spread.  Last Friday quarterback Ryan Van Schelven set a Hononegah record by throwing six touchdown passes in a win over Belvidere.

"It's the same colors but a complete different approach," said Auburn coach Dan Appino of Hononegah. "Last year they showed what they're moving towards. I think this year they've just showed how multiple they are."

"Every week we have a different game plan based on the defense," says Hononegah quarterback Ryan VAn Schelven. "We usually try to take what they're giving us. Last week we just happened to be throwing the ball a lot." "We have a lot of different weapons. It makes it easy especially with all the protection that I have. I can sit back there for a long time and make the reads."

"He's doing what we ask him to do, says Hononegah coach Brian Zimmerman. "As far as running it we call the plays in. Tell him what's up. He's got a few options to make there and I think he's doing a great job."

The Knights quick, athletic defenders will try to disrupt Hononegah's physical line and offensive flow.

"They've got some good O-linemen. They block good and do their assignments good," says Auburn defensive end Terry Purifoy.

Injuries have prevented Auburn from playing with a full deck on offense all year. Running back Daqwuan Bell finally played his first game last week since the opener.

"It felt great! says Bell. "I missed playing on Fridays just sitting out thinking like man my time will come. So I was really excited to get back on the field."

The Knight's top two quarterbacks Quay Thompson and Jamus Neal were both injured last week forcing the Knights to turn to their third and fourth quarterbacks. Yet here the Knights are still undefeated.

"I'm really proud of our kids with that next-man-up philosophy," says Appino.

Thompson should be back from his ankle injury this week.  It's all hands on deck with what's at stake in this game.

"They obviously know the ramifications of this that the winner could be conference champions," says Zimmerman. "We're trying to stress to them it's just like any other week. The team that we have this week happens to have a really good record, the same as us."

Catch the highlights Friday at 10 p.m. on WTVO 17.

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