ARGENTA — Maroa-Forsyth has had a difficult two weeks off the field. But on the field, the Trojans are stepping on their opponents’ necks and not letting off.
After taking a 40-0 lead against Meridian last week, Maroa led 28-0 after the first 12 minutes against Argenta-Oreana on Friday on its way to a 41-6 win.
Jack Hockaday was nearly perfect for the Trojans (5-1, 2-0 Okaw Valley Blue), completing 17 of 19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Only two of those passes came in the second half. Hockaday said Maroa getting left out of the group leaving the Okaw to form a new conference last week, then finding out it’s being investigated by the IHSA because of its transfers this week hasn’t shaken the Trojans’ focus. In fact, Hockaday said, if anything it’s locked it in.
“We’re a team and we’re always going to stick together — we’re not going to let that other stuff bother us,” Hockaday said. “I’d say it gives us a little motivation.”
But coach (and athletics director) Josh Jostes said the Trojans’ improved play from early in the season is due more to an inexperienced team jelling than a chip on their shoulder.
“Our kids just line up and play football,” Jostes said. “It’s a little more stressful for the athletic director and principal. But for the kids? Have you seen that performance before out of them? It wasn’t any different tonight than it ever was. It was a big game, the lights were the brightest and our kids showed up and played.”
Hockaday called it Maroa’s “crispest” performance of the year, but the Bombers contributed to the lopsided score by more or less handing the ball to Maroa deep in their own territory on each of their first two possessions. The first came on a Gage Eller fumble caused by a Curt Beckman sack. The second came on a botched pitch. Jordan Bond, who had four touchdowns, scored on a 38-yard pass and a 3-yard run to cash in the fumbles.
Argenta (3-3, 0-2) finished with five turnovers; Maroa scored after four of them. It was another step back for Argenta, which suffered its second blowout loss in a row after falling to A&M 41-12 in Week 5.
“We gave them two scores — just gave it to them,” Argenta coach Chad Eisenmenger said. “It was the same story, different week. One play against a team like that early in a game, you just can’t recover from that. You can’t come out and do those things against a great football team like Maroa.”
What stood out
Hockaday has put up good numbers all year, but against Argenta he looked like Logan Stelzriede 2.0. Most of his 17 completions were quick drops where the ball was out and in the receivers’ hands before Argenta defenders could even react. He completed passes to five different receivers and every ball was thrown with a purpose — a marked improvement from the last time I saw Maroa play (Week 2 vs. Tolono Unity), when he looked comfortable running but timid throwing.
On the day it became public the IHSA was looking into the transfer of five athletes from Mount Zion to Maroa — including three on the football team — two of the three transfers played and contributed.
Bond rushed 14 times for 73 yards and three touchdowns, and also had three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Justin Mikeworth had 12 yards rushing and recorded two tackles, including one for a loss.
The other transfer, Brock Elliott, didn’t play. According to IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha, the investigation is still ongoing and no Maroa players have been suspended.
“Coaches’ decision — no issues,” Jostes said of Elliott.
Argenta was beat up going into the game, and came out of the game even worse.
Ryan Redpath (broken fibula) kicked Argenta’s extra point, but still wasn’t available at receiver or defensively. Running back/kick returner Austin Wenskunas (concussion, separated shoulder) was also out. Then quarterback Gage Eller was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Eisenmenger said he wasn’t sure any of them would be available for next Friday’s game vs. Meridian.