For The Tribune
Brownstown Central’s football team didn’t control the ball for long Friday night but certainly made the most of its time with the pigskin in hand.
The Braves (3-0) possessed the ball for just 14 of the game’s 48 minutes but left with a convincing 37-0 victory against Eastern (Pekin).
“In the first half, I thought we played well all around,” Braves head coach Reed May said. “To come down here, win 37-0 and take care of business was good. Our kids are adapting to this offense well.”
Indeed, during Friday’s first quarter, Brownstown’s offense ran just four plays but scored on two of them. Of the Braves’ 35 offensive plays, 16 went for 10 or more yards.
The Braves ended the night with 429 total yards, while limiting the Eastern (1-2) to just 38 net yards. The effort marked the third time in three games that the Braves generated 400 or more yards while limiting their opponents to 170 or fewer yards.
For good measure, the Brownstown defense recorded its first shutout of the season. Last year’s senior-laden squad had four shutouts.
“I’m not surprised,” senior linebacker Jacob Brewer said of Brownstown’s early defensive success. “I figured it would take a while for the new guys to get experience. They’re learning quickly. We’ve got a strong defensive line that plays its gap responsibilities. We’ve got good defensive backs. We work well together. We’ve got a lot room for improvement, but I’m certainly not disappointed so far.”
With seven tackles, Brewer led a Brownstown defense that forced Eastern into 11 negative-yardage plays. Justin Donnells, Matthew Lucas, Gus Hogan, Cameron Eggersman, Trevor Colby, Ryan Benter, Tyler Neal and Lance Goecker all recorded tackles for loss.
Eggersman, Cam Shoemaker and Clay Wilkerson added quarterback sacks, while Derek Rieckers provided the night’s biggest defensive highlight — an interception that he returned 45 yards.
“Defensively, I’m a little surprised because we have so many first-time starters,” May said. “But, on the other hand, we knew we had a lot of quick, strong kids on the defensive side.”
On the offensive side, junior Gavin Bane continued his emergence as an offensive weapon for the Braves. Bane finished with 188 rushing yards on just eight carries. He got Brownstown rolling with a 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
With two two-point conversions, Bane added 10 points to his team-leading total and now has scored 48 points in just three 2015 games.
“Gavin’s a pretty good athlete,” May said. “With so many seniors last year, he didn’t get a lot of chances, but he did well on the JV squad. He’s done a nice job so far. He’s running the ball well and catching it well.”
Donnells also assembled a solid night, scoring two touchdowns while generating 86 yards on four touches (three rushes, one reception). Goecker and Matt Nierman each scored on four-yard runs.
Senior Cam Shoemaker made the game’s most spectacular play, pulling down a high-thrown pass from quarterback Kyle Kramer one-handed and earning a first down.