The youth movement taking place at 10th and Jackson should guarantee the Quincy Notre Dame football team will be competitive for years to come.
But if this year’s team is going to achieve its goals — a Mid-State Six Conference championship and a deep playoff push top the list — it’s going to need senior leadership. Friday night against Macomb, Ryan Spohr, Brandon Kientzle and Anthony Hendren provided it.
The trio of linebackers set the tone for the season with their attacking style. First, it was Spohr spoiling an opportunity for Macomb’s Davis Hendrickson to find a seam outside by filling the gap and making a solid open-field tackle.
Next, it was Kientzle reading the option and exploding into the backfield to bring Hendrickson down for a 7-yard loss. Then, it was Hendren getting involved in almost every stop, finishing with a team-high 12 tackles.
The offensive explosion that resulted in more than 300 yards rushing in a 50-6 QND victory might have overshadowed the defensive effort, but it will be the defense that has to stand up to tests like Geneseo, Peoria Woodruff and Peoria Richwoods.
REMEMBER THESE NAMES: Justin Stinnett, Jay Finley and Eddy Holtschlag.
Stinnett, a senior linebacker, is a sizable force in the middle and proved he can track down a play from behind.
Finley, a junior tackle, got off the ball quick, found himself harrassing Bombers quarterback Kendall Hocker in the backfield and should good sideline-to-sideline quickness.
Holtschlag, a sophomore defensive end, looks more like a football player than almost any other Raider. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he’s burly and strong enough to take on heavier offensive linemen and quick enough to run down running backs from behind.
IMPRESSIVE DEBUTS: The sophomore class showed it has a lot to offer.
The strength and accuracy of quarterback Kramer Barnes is impressive. He does a quality job of squaring his shoulders when he throws and delivering a ball only catchable by his receiver.
Luke Stamerjohn forced the only turnover, picking off a Hocker pass. Stamerjohn’s size, ability to read plays and hard-hitting capabilities make him a natural at a safety position.
Daniel Weiman looked at home as a coverage corner and coming up to defend the run. He also showed he can run the ball a little, too. He picked up 52 yards on five carries and promises to be a workhorse in the backfield for the future.
SHOWING SOME SPUNK: Down four scores at halftime, Macomb could have simply accepted a beating and began prepping for its Olympic Conference schedule. Instead, the Bombers showed some heart with their scoring drive to open the third quarter.
“I was very pleased with how we reacted,” Macomb coach Kelly Sears said. “We have a lot of positives to take from this game. The thing I’m most pleased with is my biggest lineman is 200 pounds with lead in his shoes, we’re going against 300-pounders and we’re moving the ball against them.”
Kendall Hocker has a lot to do with that.
The senior quarterback led Macomb with 55 yards rushing and scored the Bombers’ lone touchdown. The best part for the Macomb coaching staff was the poise he showed facing adversity.