Eldon enforced its will Friday night.
The state-ranked Class 3 No. 10 Mustangs welcomed California for a Tri-County Conference clash and dictated the outcome early en route to a 55-14 win. Eldon could not ask for a much better start as the Mustangs found the end zone on their first six offensive drives and did not look back the rest of the way.
“They (California) gave us a look on defense that we felt pretty confident about in what we like to do,” Eldon coach Shannon Jolley said of the early offensive success. “That is not always the case so it kind of worked out well for us initially. We got it going early and when we get going downhill, we can make a few adjustments and sustain drives so it was nice.
“California is kind of rebuilding with a new coach so I thought their kids played really hard and did some good stuff. There was tremendous sportsmanship displayed on both sides so that was also nice,” the coach added.
By the end of the night, Eldon totaled 456 yards of offense with 389 of those yards coming on the ground and another 67 coming through the air.
It began with a 53-yard drive on the opening possession of the night where Eldon needed just under five minutes to find the end zone. Facing a 4th-and-4, junior quarterback Dawson Brandt converted the first of three successful fourth down conversions with a 14-yard run and moments later junior fullback Isaiah Parsons punched in a 1-yard touchdown run. Brandt hit senior running back Trenton Dillon for the 2-point conversion and the Mustangs quickly went up 8-0.
Then Eldon lined up and did it again over the next five offensive series. Parsons scored on runs of two yards and nine yards to lead the Mustangs with three touchdowns on the night, senior running back Isaiah Merida ran for a 52-yard score and hauled in a 58-yard pass touchdown pass, Brandt dashed 51 yards down the sideline for a score and sophomore running back Clayton Moore scored on a 7-yard run.
Just like that, it was 48-0 Eldon midway through the third quarter and the Mustangs scored on all but one of the team’s nine offensive drives. Senior running back Jordan Metz put in the final score of the night on a 3-yard run.
Parson’s said the team’s offensive success, including his own, began up front with the offensive line and he was very appreciative of their efforts.
“It was great. They really locked up on their blocks, opened some lanes up and I really enjoy it when I do not have four or five guys on me,” said Parsons who put up 57 rushing yards to go with his three scores. “I like it when I can hit head on with somebody else one-on-one. It is what fullbacks do, but I really appreciate the line doing that for me.”
Jolley also liked what he saw from the line and also took some time to commend the play of junior lineman Jacob Krantz who was battling with the flu before Friday night’s contest.
“He was not feeling the best, and I don’t single guys out very much, but I really appreciate the fact that he came in and played all the way through with the number ones,” the coach stated. “That says a lot about that unit. I think they are starting to grow together, it is a fun group to coach and I think there is a commitment level on the inside… We have a lot of confidence in those guys.
“But hats off to everybody. We ran the ball well and we did a lot of good things so it was a great team victory and we are looking forward to getting back to work.”
Merida led the rushing attack with 105 yards, Brandt finished with 81 and Metz put up 63 yards of his own respectively to keep the running game fresh as Eldon used seven different ball carriers. Through the air, Merida also led the way with the 57-yard touchdown reception while senior tight end Cole Walker also pulled down a 10-yard pass as Brandt completed two of his six pass attempts for 67 yards.
As impressive as the offense was, the defense was just as imposing as California was held to just 154 total yards of offense on the night. Brandt at defensive back and Walker at linebacker led the charge with five total tackles each while Merida recorded four tackles of his own from the defensive back position. Dillon and fellow senior linebackers Tanner Myers and Thaddeus May also gave California fits as the trio combined for four total sacks.
Dillon, who also blocked a punt early in the second quarter to set Eldon up with great field position at the California 9-yard line, said he and his teammates just dialed in and did their jobs.
“Last week I did not get to the quarterback at all,” the senior said referring to last week’s loss at Blair Oaks- the team’s only loss on the year. “I did not touch him, so this week I came in more prepared and I knew our defense was going to do a better job with their responsibilities. They helped me out a bunch too filling in their gaps.”
It was certainly a much better outcome for a defense that posted a shutout in the first half after giving up a few big plays to Blair Oaks last week that made the comeback bid a much tougher obstacle.
“Those kids from California played really hard, but they are not where Blair Oaks is at yet and I think they eventually will be,” Jolley noted. “On that side, we played a really good football team last week so you look at some schematic things you want to maybe improve on, but we appreciate the opportunity to play that kind of competition.”
Eldon (4-1) will take on a 3-2 Warsaw team for Homecoming that held on for a 28-21 win over Versailles Friday night. While there will be plenty of Homecoming festivities to be enjoyed throughout the course of the week, Jolley said the focus will be on taking care of business Friday night.
“I know they are much improved,” Jolley said of Warsaw. “Everybody is looking to get better and as you make improvements, it is just as tough to stay up near the top (conference) so our main goal is making sure we are doing what we need to do.”
Dillon, for one, is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m ready to go back out already and play,” he said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., at Victor Field.