Hillsboro gets defensive in 35-0 win over Centennial
The Hillsboro Spartans have struggled in recent weeks getting defensive stops, but that was not the case on this night as the Sparts shutout visiting Centennial 35-0 Friday night, Sept. 23, at Hare Field in Hillsboro.
Hilhi held the visiting Eagles to 77 total yards of offense, just five first downs, and forced two turnovers en route to their third win in four games.
"We played really well on defense, especially compared to the last couple of weeks," Hillsboro linebacker and running back Preston Echeverria said. "We've been working on getting our defense to be more disciplined and I think we were tonight."
Spartans head coach Dan Shuff agreed with his linebacker, adding that it's been a work in progress, but also one that he and his staff knew would come eventually.
"We've been talking and harping on playing disciplined football since the beginning," Shuff said. "We knew the kids were capable of doing that all year and finally they put it all together and played assignment football."
Centennial never really got going and it took the Spartans a bit as well.
After consecutive three-and-outs to start the game and a scoreless first quarter, Hillsboro drew first blood on the first drive of the second quarter, capping a five play drive with an Echeverria 3-yard touchdown run.
Echeverria added a second score six minutes later to put the Sparts ahead 14-0, then the home team added a third score just before the half when Ian Ingram connected with Preston Doran on a 12-yard scoring throw to make it 21-0 as the two teams headed to the locker room.
The touchdown pass was one of two on the night for Ingram who shared signal-calling duties with Calvin Perkins. The two of them combined to go 15-of-27 for 212 yards and three total scores.
The quarterbacks have been splitting duties all season, and Shuff said that likely won't change any time soon due to the productivity and the two's comfort with the decision.
"We like what each one of them gives us and I think for them it just makes them more relaxed not having to carry the whole load," the coach said. "I think they enjoy battling with each other and picking each other up, so I think we're gonna continue with that for now."
It wasn't smooth sailing on the offensive side of the ball for Hillsboro however, and in fact Shuff cited their early offensive woes as a point of frustration.
"Anytime we didn't score it was pretty much either holding penalties or dropped balls," he said. "We know we can be better and we've got to be better in the weeks to come because we have some really good teams coming."
He's right. Centennial has struggled much of the season and with wins over the Eagles, St. Helens and Ida B. Wells, the softest part of Hillsboro's 2022 slate is behind them. In the coming weeks they'll face undefeated Putnam, perennial power Wilsonville, and Southridge of the Metro League who's playing down this year and too is without a defeat.
Shuff knows what's on the horizon and knows they'll have to be much better in order to be up to the challenge.
"We have to take advantage of this momentum," the coach said. "We have to keep getting better defensively, make plays when they're there offensively, and take advantage of opportunities when we have them."
The Spartans coach said that before the year and up to now the team has been all about making the playoffs, and at 3-1 they understand they're where they need to be to achieve that goal—something they're intensely focused on.
"Since the beginning of the year it's been playoffs or bust for us this year," Shuff said. "A lot of our juniors have been playing since they were freshmen and they have their eyes set on the postseason. We know it's going to be tough, but we feel like we can do it."
Echeverria thinks so too, but feels it will take more effort like they got tonight in order to do so.
"We've been working on keeping our heads up better and staying in the football game no matter what," Echeverria said. "It worked tonight, and hopefully it will work in the rest of our games."
Echeverria finished with 40 yards and two scores on nine carries, and added four catches for 68 yards while also tallying two sacks.
Jaden Echeverria caught a 10 yard touchdown pass from Ingram and finished with four catches for 68 yards.
Doran had four catches for 48 yards and a sack.
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