After losing to both in back-to-back weeks, Galesburg coach Tim Dougherty knows next week's battle between Rock Island and Alleman, the Western Big 6 football conference's undefeated pair, is a must-see.
"Play it on Saturday and I'd be there," the coach deadpanned, with his Streaks playing Quincy next Friday at the same time that the Rocks and Pioneers will decide the WB6 championship at Moline's Browning Field.
The Rocks (6-1) won their sixth straight game and moved to 4-0 in the Big 6 with a 28-16 win over the Silver Streaks (4-3, 2-2) at Almquist Field. A week earlier, on their home turf, the Streaks lost 21-0 to the now 7-0 Pioneers.
"You always dream of playing in the big games, you want to play in the big games, it's fun to play in the big games," first-year Rocky coach Bryan Stortz said. "But we are going to have to work on the little details. It is taking care of the fundamentals that make the difference."
If there is a concern in the Rocks' camp, it is the lack of production in the last half that leads up to that big game. The Rocks bolted to a 28-3 halftime lead against Galesburg, and then managed just two first downs and 55 yards of total offense in the second half.
"We need to focus for 48 minutes or whatever it takes to win the game," Stortz said. "I can't point to the unproductive half. What we have to do is do a better job of coaching."
Still, you can't look at either the 28-point first half or the scoreless second when trying to determine how those figure into next Friday's showdown. The Rocks played without leading rusher Amos Johnson (pulled quad) and defensive back Trey Sigel (sprained ankle).
"Amos could have played, but we decided to keep him out. We need him healthy" for next week, Stortz said. "Trey is questionable. It's a thing where it could be a two-day or a two-week thing. He could be back."
Out of the chute Friday, the Rocks just had too many weapons for the Streaks. Quarterback Zach Chapman completed 6-of-9 passes in the first half, throwing touchdown tosses to Derrick Willies (21 yards) and Quinton Holmes (8 yards). Brandon Richardson had 75 rushing yards and a TD in the first half. The other TD came on a Chapman sneak.
"We didn't come off the bus ready to play," Dougherty said. "I think it took us time to adjust to their team speed. But in the second half, we played the way we are capable of playing."
In fact, Galesburg dominated the second half in all facets. The Streaks had nine of their 14 first downs in the final two quarters. They had 36 yards rushing on 21 carries in the first half. Travon Diggins finished the game with 75 yards on 19 carries and a TD. When he went out with a leg cramp, sophomore J.J. Range came in to get four carries for 14 yards and a TD.
Jonathan Mixon, the Streaks' 1,000-yard rusher, did not practice all week because of an injury and had just two first-quarter carries for minus-4 yards.
Stortz continues to see progress in the Rocks as they eye a shot at their first Western Big 6 football crown since 2009, with the Rocks getting undefeated conference crowns in '08 and '09.
"Every day we stress getting better in some way, some fashion," said the RI coach. "We've come a long way, but we have a lot of things we can get better at."
Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses. 1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000. 1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city. 1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association. 1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College. 1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.