No two NIC-10 teams have battled each other more than the last two years than Hononegah and Auburn have.
Four times the’ve met between the regular season and the playoffs. Fridaynight they’ll meet again in a high-stakes matchup in our Game Of The Week.
Both teams come into this matchup with 4-1 records. Both lost hard-fought games to Boylan, and both need a win to stay on Boylan’s heels in the race for the conference championship. These are also two of the top three defensive teams in the conference.
The big difference Friday is Auburn will be without starting quarterback Nathan Jarrett. He has cracked bones in his throwing hand. That’s just the latest in a series of injuries to hit the Knights this season.
“It’s tough but all of our players are ready to get out there and play, so everybody is ready to step up for somebody,” says Auburn running back Drequan Friar.
Delayno Mack and Quay Thompson will split time at quarterback. Both are capable, but neither one matches Jarrett’s complete skill-set.
“Delayno’s more of a classic, traditional, pocket passer. He throws the ball pretty well. Quay is, I think, our leading receiver on the team right now and a really good athlete,” says Auburn coach Dan Appino.
Hononegah has a healthy Dominic Ballano at quarterback and a red-hot Christian Fausel at running back. They combined to help Hononegah produce more than 500 yards of offense last week in a win over Belvidere. It’s an offense that offers more of a pass-run blend this year than in past years.
“You’re going to see whatever the defense gives us,” says Hononegah coach Brian Zimmerman. “Our goal in the spread offense is to get what we get and hopefully we get a little bit of both.”
A key for Hononegah will be handling Auburn’s ‘bigs’ in the trenches.
“They’re so big up front, so we’re going to have our hands full with some of their senior linemen for sure,” says Zimmerman.
Since Jarrett and his threat as a passer will be missing, Auburn expects Hononegah’s defense to load up to try to stop the run.
“Our offensive line has to get the job done even though there’s going to be eight guys in the box, we’ve got to find a way to move people and create gaps,” says Appino.
Auburn has has won three of the four games played between these schools the past two years. They split their two playoff games.
“Nothing but respect for those guys,” says Hononegah guard Tommy Rollette of Auburn. “They’ve really turned that program around and they definitely came out and shocked some people the last few years.”
“I’ve played them four times in the past four years,” says Fausel. They just have speed laterally. They have a lot of guys that fly around, fly to the football. Then they’re big up front.”
Catch highlights of the game Friday at 10 p.m. on Eyewitness News on WTVO 17. Also watch for highlights and interviews Saturday on the half-hour Sports Connection (10:30am on MyNetwork TV and 5:30pm on Fox 39).