HOWARD — What a way to start a season.
The East Knox Bulldogs, coming out of a 1-9 season a year ago, went toe-to-toe with the Coshocton Redskins at home on Friday. Two big kick returns set up two scores in the first half, and key stops on defense in the fourth quarter led to a 27-19 upset over Coshocton on football’s opening day.
“We expected to come out and put on a good performance,” said East Knox head coach Calvin Hatfield. “I told the guys that we’re prepared to win. This year, we felt we were good enough to win.”
The Bulldogs, who figured to struggle all season long at the line of scrimmage, dominated instead. The team beat the Redskins to the play consistently, forcing open holes for running backs Dylan Wears and Mason Lyon. Wears, settling into the fullback position after spending much of last season bouncing around the backfield, carried the ball 20 times for 139 yards — and wasn’t thrown for a loss once.
“(Wears) runs hard,” said Hatfield. “His drive is fantastic. The amount of time he spends in the weight room is fantastic.”
Wears consistently worked on the defense, getting five yards on virtually every carry, before finally bursting through with a 58-yard jaunt to the Coshocton 3 yard line on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
“Our coaches talked all year about keeping your feet moving,” said Wears. “They’re fast, but they’re not physical. The line did an extremely good job. They held their blocks downfield, which helped on those big runs.”
Quarterback Cody Howard took the ball the remaining three yards on the next play to open up a two-touchdown lead.
Steven Jacobs had the big plays in the first half, returning the first two kickoffs into Coshocton territory. The first one went to the 43, where he was tackled by the facemask for an additional 15 yards on the penalty. He later returned a kickoff 77 yards to the Coshocton 9.
“There was good blocking. That front line did most of the work,” Jacobs said. “Anybody could have run as far as I went. It was easy. We’ve got a great kick return scheme, and everyone did our best.”