AMBOY – To say everything was a “Go” for the Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio football team in its 8-Man Football Playoffs first round matchup against Hiawatha would be an understatement.
Entering as the No. 2 seed against the No. 15 seed on Saturday, Oct. 28 in Amboy, the Clippers started with their feet on the pedal and never let off.
Defensively, seniors Landon Montavon and Austin Heath had their names all over the stat books and through the public announcer’s microphone.
“We all fly to the ball really well. I think that’s our top strength as a defense. We like to lay the boom,” Montavon said. “By the time the second quarter comes around, we’re hoping that other teams are out of energy. We’re very well-conditioned. But flying to the ball as fast as we do, I think that’s the key to our success.
“Our coaches preach to us to not look past anyone because anything can happen on the football field. Any team can lose. They told us not to look over Hiawatha. We discussed it and we think this was our best start to a game this season. We’re in our best form right now and it’s looking good.”
Montavon recorded a tackle for a one-yard loss on the first Hiawatha play of the game and followed with a fumble recovery on the next play.
The defense finished the game with four sacks, three fumbles with two recoveries, and senior Troy Anderson picked off a Hawks’ pass for an interception.
“Our defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. The first two series, Austin Heath was in the backfield making tackles for loss, four times,” said Clippers’ coach Scott Payne. “He also had a quarterback sack. Montavon also did a great job.
“When our line can control the line like that, a lot of good things are going to happen. It’s going to make it tough for teams to run the ball on us.”
While the defense was handling its business, so was the offense.
Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio received the opening kickoff and changed the zero on the scoreboard first as junior quarterback Eddie Jones found Anderson for a 15-yard touchdown. Jones ran in the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with 9:36 still on the first-quarter clock.
“This win feels really good. Our offense was really rolling today. No one could stop us once we got started,” said Jones, who completed 4-of-5 passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Hawks. “It’s good for my confidence to win my first playoff game as the starting quarterback. We want to keep going and keep rolling through the playoffs. We’re senior heavy and everyone on the team is ready to play in big playoff games.”
After Montavon’s fumble recovery, Jones threw his second touchdown pass of the contest as he found senior Brennan Blaine for 16 yards.
The touchdowns came in a fury as the Clippers lead 32-0 after the first quarter, 54-0 at haltime, no points were scored in the third quarter with an imposed running clock, and Hiawatha scored with 6:43 left in the fourth to finalize the game at 54-6.
Senior running back Landon Whelchel had three touchdowns (three, 51, and 14 yards) and 128 yards on 10 carries, while junior Quinn Leffelman took 11 handoffs for 101 yards and two scores (16 and 20 yards).
“Eddie is good at exploiting the defense after they’re accustomed or set up to stop our run game,” said Payne. “They were coming hard on the run, so we said, ‘Let’s throw it,’ and Eddie did a great job of finding the open receiver. Eddie is really good at the play-action pass and it worked well for us.
“I told them Thursday, ‘Our record is 0-0 right now.’ The only thing that matters is this part of the season, the playoffs, and these kids understand all that. They accept everything we tell them, and they do a great job of everything we’re telling them to do.
“This is a great group of kids. They take one game, one week at a time and you couldn’t ask for anything more out of them.”
The Clippers will face No. 7 Flanagan-Cornell-Woodland at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 in the second round of the 8-Man Football Playoff bracket.
The Falcons, who were 2-7 last year, have an 8-2 record in 2023 including a 52-0 victory over South Beloit in the first round of the playoffs.
F-C-W has scored 421 points (42.1 per game) and allowed 158 (15.8) during the season, while A-L-O has scored 491 (49.1) and allowed 102 (10.2).