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Red Devils win battle of unbeatens, knock off EHS 28-18

  • S-V-W senior Eli Gunter comes up with his second strip of the game on defense, leading to another Red Devils touchdown in Friday night's 28-18 win over Eldorado in Black Diamond Conference action.

    S-V-W senior Eli Gunter comes up with his second strip of the game on defense, leading to another Red Devils touchdown in Friday night's 28-18 win over Eldorado in Black Diamond Conference action.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 9/7/2018 11:22 PM

History has a way of repeating itself.

Last year, in Week 3 of the IHSA football schedule, then Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn prevailed in a 22-14 win at Carroll Kelly Field in a pair of unbeaten Black Diamond Conference football clubs.

Fast forward this year -- Week 3 -- where both squads entered with 2-0 records and the only difference was The Red Devils were missing a W. Despite dropping Woodlawn from its co-cop, the Red Devils still picked up a W with a 28-18 dismantling of the Eagles at Boz Adams Field.

S-V-W head coach John Shadowens acknowledged last year's win, but credited his team for hanging tough against an unbeaten Eldorado team on its home turf.

"All together it was the best game of the year," he said. "You know, Week Three it should be. I can't say enough about these kids. It's cliché but I love these kids. They work so hard and what they got tonight, they deserve. Hats off to Eldorado, what a great team. They are well coached and they fought until the end so congratulations to them as well."

A couple of costly turnovers were the difference for both teams as S-V-W took a first half fumble recovery and marched in for its first score of the game, when Red Devils' QB Reid Basso hit Jayon Malone from 25 yards out with 8:20 to play and a successful two-point conversion from Eli Gunter gave S-V-W an 8-0 lead.

The Red Devils rode some momentum into halftime when with 11.2 to play, Basso called his own number and scored on a 1-yard run while Eli Gunter competed the two-point conversion to give the Red Devils a 16-0 lead.

More good fortune was bestowed upon S-V-W in the third quarter when on back-to-back possessions, Eli Gunter stripped an Eldorado running back, the second leading to a four-yard pass from Basso to Tanner Eubanks with 2:16 to play, giving the Red Devils a 22-0 advantage.

Following the touchdown, Eldorado began a furious rally to get to within eight point at 22-16, but Joe Clark knows eliminating the turnovers makes the matchup a much different ballgame at that point.

"Yes, we have to value the football but what a play (Gunter) made twice, stripping the ball," Clark said. "I don't know if he's trained or just has a knack for it but it was a neat play for a high school kid to make and credit to him goes on that some. We need to do a better job and we had some mistakes as coaches, as players, everything. We'll continue working and try to figure it out."

On the ensuing possession for Eldorado, Aiden Whitlock found Jeremy Boulds on a 44-yard strike for a touchdown and Clayton Dennis provided the two-point conversion to get the Eagles on the board.

Then, after forcing S-V-W on a three-and-out, Metten connected with Joe Mayberry on a trio of big passes to set up a Jace Jenkins four-yard touchdown run with 4:38 to play in the game and get the Eagles to within eight at 22-16.

Eldorado tried the onside kick and didn't recover and after Basso hit Garrett Gunter on a huge 3-and-10 to put the ball at the Red Devils' 32-yard line, Basso hit Eubanks on a fourth down call from nine yards out and 14.1 to play to put the game out of reach for Eldorado.

The loss is one that stings for Clark and company, but also one he knows his team will learn from.

"We've been snake-bit by Week 3 the past few years," he said. "I don't know what it is. I need to study the preparation or something. Sesser is a good team, but we played poorly and still had a shot to win. We're not crying 'poor us' but the reality is if you want to beat a good team, you have to play better and I have to coach better."

Shadowens lost Malone to what he described as a "pretty significant ankle sprain" in the first half and the 6-foot, 180-pound senior running back didn't return to action.

"He does so many things for us in different spots that it cut our play book into about 1/3," Shadowens said of the adjustments his staff had to make. We came out after halftime and got some things fixed, but it affected us."

Both teams find themselves in similar spots they did a year ago. The Red Devils ran the table until a Week 9 matchup with Fairfield, which S-V-W lost and followed that up with a first round loss to Greenville in the Class 2A playoffs.

Eldorado finished 7-2 in the regular season, but beat Red Bud in the first round of the playoffs, before losing to Maroa-Forsyth.

Both could be on similar paths this year, but Clark is only concerned with next week's game at Carmi-White County.

"We have to go beat Carmi," Clark said. "That becomes a situation to just stay in the conference hunt and put you in playoff position. The neat thing about pressure is the human body is programmed to respond to it and we will. We'll be ready to go. No guarantees but we're looking forward to a week of preparation and trying to find the positives in this game and build on them."

Shadowens and crew echoed much of Clark's sentiments that while it's easy to look ahead, the Red Devils are now preparing for Johnston City.

"This was a pivotal game. We knew that on (Eldorado's) home turf this year, the person to win the game would be in the drivers seat. We look at it one game at a time and we can't look anywhere near Fairfield. I have all kinds of respect for Chester. We've got two games before we get to Chester that if you sleep at all, you're going to get beat. The Black Diamond has come closer together this year I think. The teams on the bottom last year aren't quite as bad as they were and the teams on top aren't quite as good as they were. On any given Friday night, most of the teams in the BDC give you game."

S-V-W gained 351 yards of total offense and were led in rushing by Gunter, who gained 152 yards on 31 carries.

Basso passed for 184, going 11-for-22 with one interception and hooked up with Eubanks six times for 72 yards.

Eldorado wasn't far behind with 300 yards of total offense and was led by Metten's 67 yards on 12 carries.

Whitlock was 10-for-17 with 151 yards and one touchdown, while Mayberry had seven catches for 97 yards.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.

SVW 28, Eldorado 16

Eldorado 0 0 8 8 -- 16

SVW       8 8 6 6 -- 28

First Downs:  EHS 17, SVW 19

Total yards:  EHS 300, SVW 351

Fumbles-lost:  EHS 3, SVW 0

Interceptions:  EHS 0, SVW 1

Rushing:  EHS, Metten 12-67, Jenkins 9-49 1TD,  Etienne 2-20,  Dennis 3-10, Mayberry 1-2, Whitlock 2-1. SVW, E. Gunter 31-152, Basso 7-8 1TD, Malone 2-4, Lance 2-3

Passing:  EHS, Whitlock 10-17-151 1TD. SVW, Basso 11-22-184 3TD 1 INT

Receiving:  EHS, Mayberry 7-97, Boulds 1-44 1 TD, Jenkins 2-10. SVW, Eubanks 6-72 2TD, E.Gunter 1-41, G.Gunter 2-39, Kirk 1-17, Malone 1-15 1TD