BUTLER – Records on paper have a funny way of lying to people. Such was the case in Butler on Friday night as Eastside showed more than just flashes of dominance in clinching an outright NECC Small Division title.
In fact, it wasn’t even close.
Eastside ran 20 first half offensive plays and scored 35 points off of them, winning 42-0 at the final horn. Actually the hardest thing to figure out on Friday night was if the game was really over after Eastside’s initial three-and-out defensive stand or after that second offensive play touchdown that went 72 yards.
The NECC has been a precarious place this season. Elsewhere on Friday, two teams with below .500 records battled for the conference’s big division. In this small division, a dominant Eastside had the chance to clinch the title, you know, dominantly. Or, with a loss, three teams would have shared the title.
Turns out, the closeness of the small division really only existed on paper.
It was an early tone set by the Blazers with the three-and-out stop of Central Noble that led to the Laban Davis to Kyler Bibbee scoring pass early. The Eastside defense, led by Dakota Reed’s nine tackles, hounded the Cougars nearly every second of the rest of the game. On the next Cougar drive, Central Noble didn’t settle for a punt but still turned it over on downs.
Davis 33 yard run, Gavin Wallace reception, Dax Holman touchdown short yardage run and less than seven minutes into the game, the division was all but wrapped up.
Central Noble managed to finally get a first down on their third drive but still struggled to move much past midfield. By game’s end, Eastside had earned 15 first downs to Central Noble’s seven. The Blazers held tough rusher Will Hoover to just 67 yards and less than four yards per carry. It was a clearly dominant effort from the Blazers that showcased how little those standings actually meant this year, no matter how close it falsely made us all believe it was.
The pre halftime rush from Eastside was punctuated with a Dane Sebert punt block, scooped up by Joey Eck and taken back 10 yards from the endzone. A five yard Davis run later and the game was completely academic as Central Noble had no answer for Eastside’s balanced arsenal. In fact, most of Eastside’s first string offense played just one second half series that saw another score. A running clock after that wrapped things up nicely before 9 p.m. while many other area games were just at halftime due to lightning delays.
The game opens up that point about on paper competition. Central Noble, on paper, was lining up with Eastside much of this season. Reality dictated that when you have the best player on the field (Laban Davis, to be clear) and a solid core around, him with plenty of options to handle the football…“on paper” lies. It is something we will all examine in coming weeks as the Blazers are on a collision course with also still unbeaten Bishop Luers in the postseason. Is this Eastside team for real or just NECC for real?
Don’t ask them about that now though, just let them do their victory dance with a third straight outright title. That paper, at least, isn’t a lie; Eastside is the best team in all of the NECC without question.
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