A look back at the first half of the football season for the Mustangs

OFFENSIVE LEADERS

Passing

1. Sophomore quarterback Dallas Hardy, 11-33 for 126 yards and six interceptions

2. Senior receiver Nathaniel Wardenburg, 0-1

Receiving

1. Senior receiver Nathaniel Wardenburg, two receptions for 56 yards

2. Senior fullback Kaden Dillon, four receptions for 22 yards

3. Junior tight end P.J. Bledsoe, two receptions for 18 yards

3. Senior receiver Gabe Marriott, one reception for 18 yards

Rushing

1. Senior fullback Kaden Dillon, 97 carries for 472 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and five touchdowns

2. Sophomore quarterback Dallas Hardy, 72 carries for 364 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and five touchdowns

3. Senior receiver Nathaniel Wardenburg, 38 carries for 147 yards (3.9 yards per carry)

To Note: Junior receiver Owen Levesque has rushed for 104 yards on 30 carries (3.5 yards per carry) and one touchdown

DEFENSIVE LEADERS

Tackles

1. Senior linebacker Kaden Dillon, 16 tackles, two tackles for a loss

2. Senior defensive back Blake Smith, 11 tackles

3. Sophomore defensive back Dallas Hardy, nine tackles

3. Junior defensive back Owen Levesque, nine tackles

3. Junior linebacker Tristan Robinett, nine tackles

To Note: Senior linebacker Xander Strickland has one sack

Fumbles

Sophomore defensive lineman Mason Kirkweg, junior defensive lineman Fisher Snelling and Dillon have forced one fumble each for a total of three. Dillon has the lone fumble recovery of the season so far for Eldon.

Interceptions

Hardy has the lone interception of the season so far for Eldon.

MEMORABLE MOMENT

The first half of the season has been one Eldon will simply want to leave in the rearview mirror, but if there has been any memorable moments so far in 2019 it certainly may have come in week two against Owensville. The Mustangs may not have got the outcome they wanted, but Eldon’s best outing of the season so far was against the Dutchmen as the Mustangs gave the visitors all they could handle in a 36-30 loss. Holding a 24-14 lead at one point in the third quarter, the game went back and forth and the Mustangs came through with a clutch touchdown drive to tie the game with 55 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, a late Owensville touchdown with six seconds left sealed the fate. Dillon had his best outing of the season rushing for 199 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and Hardy added 78 yards on the ground while finding Wardenburg for a big 44-yard pass play. A loss is never fun, but this game showed the potential the Mustangs carry.

FIRST HALF STAR PERFORMER

Dillon has been the leader on both sides of the ball as one of Eldon’s “Iron Men” who rarely come off the field and play both ways. The senior fullback, who only began rushing the football in his final season, has found the endurance to lead the team in rushing and tackling in his time at linebacker. Dillon has also shown that he has some hands that can be reliable in the passing game as well. The senior who has taken the role of “Bell Cow” as the lead back in Eldon’s rush-heavy offense has eclipsed the century mark in two of the four games he has played and nearly did so in a game against Southern Boone as well, finishing the night with 92 yards on the ground. His presence will continue to be needed moving forward to provide some veteran experience to a young Eldon team and time will soon tell if his second half will be just as fruitful as his first.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Eldon has run through a gauntlet to start 2019 with two games against state-ranked opponents, including the top ranked Class 3 team in the state (Blair Oaks), and the rest have been no slouches either. The first five opponents of the Mustangs have a combined record of 21-4 and Coach Chad Hult even referred to the first half of the schedule as “Murderer’s Row.” However, the 0-5 start against a tough slate may also show this team is already battle-tested and more experienced in finding ways through adversity. The second half of the season gets a little lighter with a combined record of 7-13 from future opponents, but nothing is ever guaranteed. Eldon has the tools it needs to generate future success (15.6 points per game), but one thing that absolutely must happen is cutting down big plays that have led to some easy scores for other teams (46.8 points per game) and a few more turnovers on the defensive side could not hurt either. Ultimately, however the second half shakes out, Hult just wants his team to be peaking by week 10 when the playoffs begin and time will tell if that progress is made.