Illinois High School Football News

Dixon sets tone from start, rolls past Rockford Christian in home opener

Dixon's Aidan Hoggard (5) and Hunter Vacek (24) bring down a Rockford Christian ball carrier.

DIXON – With the running game clicking on all cylinders and the defense forcing six turnovers, the Dixon Dukes set the tone from the start in a 57-8 win over Rockford Christian on Friday night in their home opener at A.C. Bowers Field.

The Dukes (3-0) scored on their first four possessions, and Aiden Wiseman’s 39-yard scoring sprint with 5:29 left in the first half made it five touchdowns on six offensive possessions, and gave Dixon a 35-8 lead.

“They have three linemen up front, then they usually bring the two outside backers, but we just kept pounding it up the middle, and I saw those little cutback lanes and just took them,” said Wiseman, who finished with 150 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, all in the first half. “The O-line did a great job tonight again, and we just pounded the ball on them all night – and were able to get some pass plays in too, so everything worked on offense and we did a great job.”

The Dixon defense then stepped up and provided some fireworks, as Tyson Dambman and Hunter Vacek had interception return touchdowns within 19 seconds of each other to push the lead to 50-8 at halftime.

Dambman’s 39-yard return saw him make his way across the field and weave in and out of blocks by his fellow defenders, and he ended up following Jath St. Pier down the Dixon sideline for a touchdown.

“I didn’t think I could score on that play, but I was running around and our defense did their job and found kids to block, and they just gave me an open hole,” Dambman said. “This week, we watched film, and we knew what they were going to come out and do, and we just listened to our defensive coach. It feels pretty good to get a couple of defensive touchdowns, too.”

Two plays later, Vacek picked off a pass and went right up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown runback to put the running clock in order for the entire second half.

St. Pier started the turnover-fest with an interception on the Royal Lions’ first offensive drive, and that turned into the Dukes’ second touchdown. James Simpson added the final pick in the fourth quarter, allowing Dixon to run out the clock.

Dixon's Jath St. Pier (2) returns an interception.

The Dukes limited Rockford Christian (1-2) to 9 yards rushing, and other than a 78-yard touchdown pass from Brody Carlson to Bjorn Carlson, the Royal Lions had just 18 more yards passing.

“We stopped them on the run, we stopped them on the pass, we just worked hard to stop them from getting first downs and moving the ball,” Vacek said. “We came out hot from the start and shut them down.

“That big play, we just put it behind us, and wanted to keep doing what we were doing. We lapsed on that play one time, but we put it behind us and got better the next time. It’s a pretty sweet feeling to get a couple of scores on defense.”

Tyler Shaner also ran for three touchdowns, the final one just three plays into the second half. Rockford Christian fumbled on the first play, then Rylan Ramsdell ran for 10 yards and four more yards were tacked on because of a personal foul penalty. Shaner ran in from three yards out on the next play, capping his night with 64 yards rushing and 71 yards on 4 for 9 passing. Ethan Hays had a pair of 28-yard catches, and Ramsdell had the other two catches for 15 yards.

Including the two pick-sixes, Dixon turned four of the Royal Lions’ turnovers into touchdowns, and didn’t convert another one when the first-half clock ran out.

“Really good offense, multiple defensive scores, just an all-around great effort from everyone,” said Wiseman after his third straight 100-yard rushing game to start the season. “Just a great team effort tonight.”

Kicker Caleb Carlson (34) kicks an extra point with placeholder Easton Roux (4) for Dixon.