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Local Sports

Running game leads Coal City past Reed-Custer

COAL CITY – One player accounted for 2,671 rushing yards by himself last season for Coal City.

If Friday’s season opener is any indication, the Coalers will continue to have success running the ball in 2015 despite the graduation of Jack Dibble, even if one player no longer is carrying as much of the load.

Coal City romped past Reed-Custer, 47-0, in an Interstate Eight Conference crossover football game before a full house at the revamped Dzuris Athletic Complex field. The Coalers finished with 357 yards and six touchdowns on 30 carries. They had three 100-yard rushers – new feature back Joe Starkey, quarterback Nick Micetich and Nick Hayden, whose 132 yards came on four jet sweeps.

“I think some of ’em were just biting at the bit for the chance,” Coal City coach Lenny Onsen said. “You see [Starkey] without his pads, and he’s short, but he’s put together, and he’s been wanting this role for a while, and he was waiting, waiting, waiting in the wings, and he’s paid his dues to earn it. And I think he’s gonna have a nice season. … [With] Nick Hayden, you got the little bit of quickness, too.”

After a Reed-Custer three-and-out to start, the Coalers drove 68 yards in six plays, with Starkey capping the series with a 39-yard touchdown. Micetich had touchdown runs of 53 and 23 yards on the second and third Coaler drives. The first came when Micetich scooped a bad shotgun snap off the ground, kept his composure and found plenty of room to run.

“I think the style of our offense is gonna have to change up a little bit, not having a Jack Dibble here anymore,” Micetich said. “Whatever we have to do to win, we’re gonna do. If we can run the ball, we’ll run it, and that’s gonna have to vary each week with our matchups. We’re not gonna have another Jack Dibble here, but Starkey looked good, Hayden looked good.”

Brad Churnovic’s 23-yard return of a Reed-Custer fumble was the fourth Coal City touchdown, and its lead increased to 33-0 before halftime when a blocked punt set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Hayden. Second-half touchdown runs of 58 and 56 yards by Hayden completed the scoring.

Reed-Custer’s best chance at scoring came on its second series, when a 41-yard Vinny Vercelote run helped the Comets advance as far as the Coal City 4. Brad Littleton’s third-down interception of Tommy Shaw ended the threat.

“You could see the difference in the two programs right now,” second-year Reed-Custer coach Mark Wolf said. “We’re kind of where we thought we’d be in Year 2. We’re disappointed we only ended up with six seniors. We had some kids step up – Sam Lepper and Scotty Mitchell played tremendous games – and we had some kids that we were depending on that didn’t do what we needed them to.”

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