Mustangs eyeing trip to Class 3 state quarterfinals

Eldon is going back to the district championship game.

The No. 2 Mustangs welcomed the No. 3 Fighting Irish of Springfield Catholic to Victor Field on a cold Friday night for a Class 3 district semifinal matchup and the home team walked away with a 38-13 victory to add a school record 10th win to the season. The Mustangs held just a slim 16-13 lead at halftime, but a dominant second half performance led Eldon to 22 unanswered points to seal it.

On the first drive of the game, Springfield Catholic’s offense went three-and-out after two straight sacks from senior Trenton Dillon who was assisted by senior defensive linemen Trent Bishop and Riley Pope. It was the first of two sacks from Dillon and Bishop as the Mustangs recorded seven total on the night. Senior defensive back Dawson Brandt and fellow senior linebacker Tanner Myers also got in the mix as well with a sack each. Senior linebacker Cole Walker led the defense with 10 total tackles while Brandt and junior linebacker Isaiah Parsons recorded seven of their own.

Meanwhile, Eldon’s offense had just as much fun. Senior running back Isaiah Merida led all ball carriers with 165 yards on the night to go with a touchdown while Parsons eclipsed the century mark for the fourth straight week from the fullback position, totaling 107 yards with two touchdown runs of his own. Brandt also found the end zone on a quarterback keeper with 33 total rushing yards and senior running back Jordan Metz added the final score of the night on yet another touchdown run, finishing with 32 rushing yards respectively. Brandt did not complete any of his four pass attempts, but the team’s 347 rushing yards on the evening was more than satisfactory.

Now, the Mustangs (10-1) will get another shot at the district title. Standing in the way is a familiar Owensville team (8-3) that claimed last year’s district crown over Eldon, but fell to the Mustangs 72-69 earlier this season in an offensive week two shootout. Both teams come into the contest on seven-game winning streaks and only one will get the chance to move on to the Class 3 state quarterfinals when the Dutchmen come back to Eldon Friday night.

Owensville comes into the contest with an offense averaging 46.4 points per game and a defense allowing 29.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Eldon is averaging 49.3 points per outing and giving up 25.2 points per outing respectively.

Unsurprisingly, the main threat Eldon will face is senior quarterback Wyatt Ellis who has been just as impressive with his arm as his legs for Owensville. Ellis has tossed 1,699 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions through the air while rushing for another 1,584 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.

The other main threat in the ground game is senior tailback Tanner Rector (1,366 yards and 14 touchdowns) while the top two wideouts to shut down will be senior Sean Irwin (502 yards and five touchdowns) and fellow senior Dustin Faragher (437 yards and three touchdowns).

If Eldon can apply pressure, slow down the run and contain the quarterback like the Mustangs did last week against Springfield Catholic, the team’s first district title since 2013 may very well be within reach.

Owensville will have plenty to worry about from the Eldon offense as well. The Mustangs feature two running backs who have surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in Merida (1,534 yards and 19 touchdowns) and Parsons (1,195 yards and 22 touchdowns) along with a mobile quarterback in Brandt (711 yards and 11 touchdowns) and another speedy back in Dillon (406 yards and one touchdown) as well. As a team, Eldon has rushed for 4,305 yards averaging 7.3 yards per carry and have showed no signs of slowing down.

The passing game has also been effective with Brandt connecting for 685 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Merida leads the receiving corps with 209 yards and four scores. Dillon (155 yards and three touchdowns), Walker (130 yards and three touchdowns) and senior wideout Austin Pipes (122 yards and three touchdowns) have also come through.

If Eldon can consistently move the chains, find the end zone and keep Owensville’s offense off the field, the Mustangs just may be the team with more points on the scoreboard at the end of the night.

Parsons, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity Eldon has on Friday night and one thing the Mustangs certainly should not lack is effort.

“We are ready to go into this district championship game and just play our hearts out for another week. That is what we are going to do,” he said.

The district title rematch is set to kickoff at Victor Field Friday night at 7 p.m.