Football Sports Xtra
Unsure if anyone else took notice of this at the time, but senior quarterback Adam Walton wore number two last year as a junior.
He was limited to just, ironically, two games due to injuries suffered in the first week at Roxana and against Hillsboro in Week 7.
Still, the Cavaliers made the second round of the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
In 2016, Walton was back, wearing uniform No. 14. Guess how many games Walton and the Cavaliers played this season? Yep, 14. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
This remarkable run that the football team made in the month of November will be hard to duplicate in any sport, let alone football.
Football is one game a week for nine weeks in the regular season. Then for those fortunate enough, and the Cavaliers have been for years, the playoffs.
Not every team makes the playoffs in football. It’s the only sport like it. Winning in the regular season really does matter. You can still go 5-4 and miss the playoffs, or 6-3 for that matter (like in Nebraska with the 2001 Blair Bears, which I was an unfortunate part of witnessing).
To see the team fall behind 7-0 in three straight playoff games, two of which came on the road, all against very quality competition, and not bat one eye, shows the makeup of this team.
To reach Week 14 in IHSA football competition, you must have some luck on your side, for sure. But you must also be good. Very good. And injury free. This past football season was the most injury-free season by far that I have covered in this my 15th year of football coverage at the prep level.
I don’t normally like to single out a certain player, but I want to give you some numbers a certain running back has had here at CHS in the past couple of years.
They are mindblowing. He was named all-state this season, and should have been last season, but I won’t get into all those logistics.
Jacob Dixon burst onto the scene as a freshman, actually, rushing for 126 yards on 15 carries (8.4 average) in five games that season.
As a sophomore, Dixon played in all 11 games, carrying the ball 51 times as a backup for 277 yards and nine touchdowns.
Move ahead to his upperclassman years, and the stats flat out don’t lie. As a junior, 276 carries for 2029 yards and 32 touchdowns in 11 games. All-state worthy? Many would think so.
He left no doubt his senior year, rushing for 3,113 yards on 360 carries with 45 touchdowns.
For his career, that’s 5,545 yards on 702 touches (an average of nearly eight yards a touch)! He scored 77 of his 87 career rushing touchdowns the last two years.
Dixon won’t take all the credit, though. He’ll be the first to say he’s only as good as his O-Line. And the O-Line has been mighty good these past couple of years.
Jake Hannig, center; Ryan Bowman, right tackle; Nate Thompson, right guard; Gabe Long, left tackle and Daniel Card, left guard, anchored the O-Line this season and without them, the team isn’t in the championship game.
But that goes for all players. Again, I don’t like singling guys out, but everybody on the roster had a huge role in getting the Cavies where they ended up.
The end result against the Elmhurst IC Catholic Prep Knights wasn’t as we were all hoping for, but still, going 12-2 in a tough conference, winning some very tough playoff games against stellar competition should not go unnoticed.
Greg Campbell in the playoffs began the chant “I believe.” “I believe that we will win.” Began the second week of the playoffs against Williamsville.
Hashtags #14strong and #I Believe became a part of the team.
And believe they did, all the way to the end. Head coach Chad Easterday and his superb staff of assistants did an amazing job getting this team focused week in and week out.
Even a week four loss to Pana, a game which Carlinville led 23-6 late in the first quarter, couldn’t shake this team.
One of the teams goals was to go 9-0 in the season. It didn’t happen through conference play, but they did win nine straight games between the Pana game and the state championship game.
You all did well. You showed a lot of class along the way. Carlinville football has had a long rich history in football. Coach Easterday numerous times has said ‘We are responsible for upholding the tradition.’
And uphold it you did. Great season, a great run.
I’ve now covered two high school teams who have finished runner-up in IHSA state championship play – this Cavaliers team and the 2000 Clinton Maroons wrestling team. Both outstanding teams, with outstanding athletes but yet, better young men of character.