ROCKTON (WREX) — Hononegah dominated its first round high school football playoff game against Grant, winning 43-17 to advance to the 2nd round. That 2nd round has been kryptonite for Hononegah, as the Indians haven’t advanced past that point since 1996. This team believes it has what it takes to get there.
The offense is a big reason why, with quarterback Payton Mather breaking several school records, and also the NIC-10 record for passing touchdowns in a season.
“This is the vision we had coming into the year with all the receivers we knew we had, that we could break records, which we’ve done,” Mather said. “Just put the ball in our receivers’ hands and let them do some work.”
After losing back-to-back games to Boylan and Belvidere North in the middle of the season, the Indians responded in a big way.
“Bouncing back the last three weeks of the regular season and this week, I think we were just waiting to break out as an offense,” Mather said.
The Indians are gearing up to face perennial power Batavia in the 2nd round. Batavia recently won state championships in 2013 and 2017. Hononegah is just fine playing the role of underdog.
“I know we have Batavia next week and nobody’s going to expect us to win that game,” Mather said. “But we’ve been saying all week, oach Ryan’s been saying, why not us. That’s the motto we’re going to take into next week. Why can’t we be the team to knock off a power like Batavia.”
Hononegah will try to keep tunnel vision heading into this one.
“We’re going to have to completely focus on next week,” senior running back Christian Gomez said. “Let go of everything else that’s happened. Just focus on the 2nd round. Do what hasn’t been done in a long time at Hononegah. Get past the 2nd round.”
Hononegah travels to Batavia for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday.