Children all around Montgomery County were hunting Easter eggs this weekend, but in Nokomis, the Redskins were hunting for a different kind of egg... a goose egg, to be specific.
After flirting with holding their opponents scoreless in the first two weeks of the football season, Nokomis delivered another stellar defensive effort on Friday, April 2, and picked up a 41-0 for their first shutout.
“We finally got that goose egg,” Coach Paul Watson said with a laugh. “It was huge. It just shows those guys what we can do as long as we take care of business and don’t make mistakes like we did in those first couple games.”
The Redskins turned defense into offense to jump out to a 27-0 halftime lead, scoring on each of their first four possessions after Carlyle’s first four possessions ended in two interceptions, a turnover on downs and a fumble.
The first of those interceptions came on the first play of the game, when senior Dylan Hayes snagged Braeden Albert’s pass to give Nokomis the ball on their own 46.
“He told me before we left the house that he was going to get an interception,” Coach Watson said of Hayes, one of four seniors honored prior to the game. “They’re leaders. Braeston (Brummet) had a couple big tackles. Cammy (Cameron Engelhart) came up big. Dallas (Sneddon) has never played before, but he’s gotten better. I wish we had him all four years.”
After Hayes’ pick, Nokomis did what they’ve done the last two weeks and hit the ground running. Jake Johnson, who ran for a team-high 89 yards as Nokomis rushed for over 300 for the second straight week, picked up eight yards on the Redskins’ first offensive play, the first of seven straight running plays in a drive that culminated with Jake Watson bulldozing his way in from 11 yards out to make it 6-0.
Carlyle’s next drive lasted only slightly longer than their first as they ran twice, yielding negative four yards, took a delay of game penalty and attempted a pass, which was snagged from the air by Landon Engelman for his team-leading fourth interception of the season.
The Redskins’ seventh interception of the year yielded them good field position for their second drive, which ended in a one-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it 12-0 with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Carlyle worked to get out of the hole though, getting some help from a personal foul penalty that moved them into Nokomis territory for the first time. Running back Kolby Schumacher broke a run for 19 yards in the drive as well, but the forward progress stalled out and the Indians turned the ball over on downs at the Nokomis 25.
Working from deeper in their own territory, Nokomis went to the air for the first time, with Connor Overby finding Cooper Bertolino for a 13 yard gain.
With the ball at midfield, they went back to the ground, serving up run after run from their junior backs, Johnson, Watson, Engelman and Matt Hill. Hill, who missed last week due to injury, made up for lost time and scored on a 12-yard run with 8:47 left on the clock to make it 20-0 after a successful two-point conversion.
The Redskins would get the ball back a minute and a half later, when Bertolino recovered a fumble, then caught his second pass of the game, this time for 11 yards.
With the ball on the 16, Nokomis ran three more times, with Overby taking it in from one yard out to make it 27-0 after Engelman’s extra point kick.
Nokomis would have the ball twice more in the half, forcing the Indians to go three-and-out twice, but a fumble and an interception on a Hail Mary kept them out of the end zone and kept it a 27 point game at the break.
After halftime, during which the Nokomis Athletic Club presented a check for $23,635.87 from the proceeds of the 2020 Arrowhead Open, Nokomis picked up where they left off.
Their first drive looked as if it would end early, but a heads up play on special teams kept it rolling. The Skins punted to midfield after going three-and-out, but the reception was coughed up, allowing Cooper Bertolino to pick up the fumble and rumble to the Carlyle 44.
“We work on turnover stations every week, which is why we were screaming, ‘Scoop and score.’ We were just waiting for that to happen,” Watson said about Bertolino’s second fumble recovery, before adding with a smile. “Turns out it works pretty good.”
The recovery led to another touchdown by Hill, this time from eight yards out. A two-point run made it 35-0 with 8:32 left in the third quarter and put the 40-point mercy rule within reach.
That thought became a reality five minutes later as the Indians went three-and-out and gave Nokomis good field position after punter Hunter Rose accidentally took a knee trying to field a bad snap.
Starting from their own 45, Nokomis marched down the field, getting big runs from Hill and Watson to set up Hill’s third touchdown of the game from the eight yard line. The extra point missed, but the 41 points on the scoreboard set the clock in motion for the rest of the game.
The final 15 minutes of game time passed quickly, with Coach Watson able to get his reserves some playing time at home. As the final horn sounded, Nokomis found themselves atop the Cahokia Conference small school standings and 3-0 for the first time since 2012, when they started the season 5-0.
Still, there is room for improvement for the Redskins, who will take on Madison at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, in Madison.
“We missed some blocks and our backs aren’t cutting inside every time,” said Watson, who knows full well his club is fine tuning things right now, not undergoing a complete overhaul. “We’re griping and complaining, but we’re getting five or six yards per run. When we get those little things taken care of, we’re going to just be that much better.”
A scary thought for those teams left on the Redskins’ schedule.
April 2 at Nokomis
Carlyle (1-2) 0 0 0 0 0
Nokomis (3-0) 12 15 14 0 41
1st - 10:53 - Nokomis - Jake Watson 11-yard run (kick failed)
1st - 3:53 - Nokomis - Jake Johnson 1-yard run (pass failed)
2nd - 8:47 - Nokomis - Matt Hill 12-yard run (Connor Overby pass to Matt Hill)
2nd - 5:36 - Nokomis - Connor Overby 1-yard run (Landon Engelman kick)
3rd - 8:32 - Nokomis - Matt Hill 8-yard run (Landon Engelman run)
3rd - 3:09 - Nokomis - Matt Hill 8-yard run (kick failed)
Passing (3-4-22): Connor Overby 3-4-22, 1 INT.
Rushing (42-301): Jake Johnson 7-89, 1 TD; Landon Engelman 12-87; Jake Watson 10-76, 1 TD; Matt Hill 6-43, 3 TD; Connor Overby 5-5, 1 TD; Craig Bertolino 1-4; Isaac Satterlee 1-(-3).
Receiving (3-22): Cooper Bertolino 2-24; Matt Hill 1-8.
Defense (solo/assists): Craig Bertolino 1/7; Dylan Hayes 2/5, 1 INT; Matt Hill 3/3; Isaac Satterlee 3/2; Connor Overby 2/3; Braeston Brummet 2/3, 1 sack; Landon Engelman 2/1; Jake Johnson 2/0, 1 sack; Braxston Taylor 1/1; Kaleb Kuhn 1/1; Wyatt Dooley 0/2; Nolan Ernst 1/0; Brenton Lyons 0/1; Mason Morris 0/1; Cameron Engelhart 1/0; Ryan Eisenbarth 0/1; Hunter Brummet 0/1; Ryan Quinn 1/0; Cooper Bertolino 0/1, 2 FR.