DeKALB – Forget a statement game. DeKalb quarterback Trenton Kyler said the Barbs are aiming bigger.
“This whole season is a statement season just to show DeKalb can play with [Class] 8A schools,” the senior quarterback said after the Barbs’ 58-21 win against Metea Valley on Saturday to open play in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Kyler finished 114 yards in the air with two scores and another 52 on the ground with a rushing touchdown.
“They’re [darned] good,” Metea Valley coach John Parpet said of DeKalb. “Their quarterback might be the best player in our league. We knew it was going to have to be a shootout for us to win. Didn’t expect it to be that extreme against us but I tell you, I thought our kids continued to compete.”
The Barbs (1-0, 1-0 DVC) scored on every possession except their final one, on which time expired.
Down 14-0, the Mustangs (0-1, 0-1) got on the board early in the second quarter with quarterback Logan Frederick finding John Flynn for a 14-yard scoring pass.
Frederick finished 22 of 34 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Two of them went to Jalen Johnson, who had 11 catches for 140 yards. Flynn had two scores.
“We knew we weren’t going to be able run the football against them,” Parpet said. “They’re really good inside. So we had our game plan going in. ... I was really happy with the way we played offensively.”
DeKalb coach Keith Snyder said he expected the Mustangs to rely on the pass but wasn’t expecting the 34 passes to only nine rushing attempts.
“We were not ready for a full-on air raid circa Kentucky with Tim Couch,” Snyder said. “We had an idea. We saw some stuff online. We knew some of the air-raid concepts they were going to run. But we didn’t think they were going to throw it 35 to 40 times [in] Week 1. Can’t say we saw that one coming.”
Snyder said he was pleased with the way the team adjusted, something he credited to the coaching staff.
“I thought we responded phenomenally,” Snyder said. “We were able to do some things defensively on the fly that a year ago we just weren’t able to do. We were just so young. Today, we were throwing some stuff at them on the fly and they did a fantastic job listening.”
After the Mustangs pulled to within seven, the Barbs responded with 30 straight points. They immediately rolled off an 11-play drive of nearly four minutes that ended with Tucker Ikens plunging in from a yard out.
The defense forced a three-and-out and then the offense scored in only three plays, capped by a 17-yard run from Ikens.
“The kid is deceptively fast,” Snyder said of Ikens. “He’s got good athleticism and he runs tough. ... That was the plan moving him to offense – was to see stuff like that out of him.”
Metea Valley again went three-and-out, and this time the punt sailed out the back of the end zone with 35 seconds left in the half.
DeKalb went for some more points, with Kyler finding sophomore Cooper Phelps for a 31-yard gain before Ikens punched in his third score of the game for a 37-7 lead at half.
“We had confidence in our offense and ourselves,” Kyler said. “Obviously defense isn’t going to be perfect – nor is offense – but it’s a big responsibility on us to score almost every drive, if not every drive. And we scored every drive basically this whole game.”
Overall, Snyder said he was pleased with how DeKalb’s defense played.
“Life in the DVC, the quarterback is going to be a college player after his senior year,” Snyder said of Metea Valley. “Jalen Johnson is a phenomenal receiver, as good as there is in the conference. I don’t care who is offering him yet. He’s as good as there is. He’s going to be a nightmare in the next year. I’m just glad I have at least another six months until I have to see him again.”
By the numbers: Ikens finished with 14 carries for 84 yards and the three touchdowns. Toriano Tate had six carries for 85 yards and a score, plus he hauled in three catches for 40 yards, two of which were touchdowns. Michael Robinson had a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for DeKalb.
Beyond the stats: Trenton McCollum, expected to be one of the top weapons for the Barbs this year, dressed but did not play for the Barbs. Snyder said he couldn’t say why McCollum missed the game.
They said it: “We look forward to having Trenton back soon,” Snyder said.
Up next: The Barbs face Naperville North on the road, while Metea Valley hosts Waubonsie Valley.