Illinois High School Football News

Dixon sets tone from start in Senior Night win over Rock Falls

Dixon’s Jath St. Pier runs the ball early in the first quarter Friday, Oct. 21, 2022 against Rock Falls.

DIXON – Needing a win to secure a guaranteed playoff berth, the Dixon Dukes came out strong and never let up in a 49-0 win over Rock Falls on Friday night at A.C. Bowers Field.

Dixon (6-3) scored on its first five drives to take control, then added touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half. Dixon had four rushing touchdowns and three passing scores – two coming on pop passes rom Tyler Shaner to Jath St. Pier – and also had an interception and fumble recovery on defense, and blocked a punt and a field goal attempt.

“Coming off the loss last week, we needed to set the tone right away. We wanted to show what we could do, and we did that,” St. Pier said. “The playoff spot was not guaranteed; we had to win this game to make sure we got that spot, and we did. We knew what was on the line, and we knew we couldn’t overlook them, and we did a good job with that.”

Dixon scored on the third play from scrimmage, a 45-yard pop pass from Shaner to St. Pier around left end just 42 seconds into the game. The Dukes then forced a Rock Falls punt, and Shaner connected with Rylan Ramsdell on a 71-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline with 7:30 left in the first quarter.

After a three-and-out, Dixon senior Kevin Banuelos blocked the next Rock Falls punt, and the Dukes took over at the Rockets’ 45-yard line. Aiden Wiseman sprinted in from 33 yards two plays later for a 21-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter.

Dixon’s Aiden Wiseman breaks a tackle against Rock Falls’ Luke Hacker Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

St. Pier then intercepted a third-down pass near midfield and returned it 20 yards to the Rock Falls 22, and Shaner ran in for a touchdown on the next play for a 28-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first period.

“I just think that during practice this week, we well-oiled our machine and got it going. We kept it up and played a good game,” Ramsdell said.”I think it’s good that we now know what we’re capable of on offense, defense and special teams going into the postseason, and how we can play if we focus and lock in.”

A turnover on downs by Rock Falls (0-9) led to the Dukes taking over at the Rockets’ 45 again, and after Shaner ran for 21 yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-20, he and Wiseman both broke off big runs the next two plays before the Dukes closed out the drive with a 6-yard pop pass touchdown from Shaner to St Pier.

The Rockets found something to end the first half, as they recovered a Dixon fumble after their next punt, then marched 54 yards on 15 plays in 4:25, getting to the Dixon 11. With five seconds left on the clock, Rock Falls lined up for a field goal, but Ramsdell was one of three Dukes to get in the backfield on the attempt, and he blocked it to preserve the 35-0 halftime lead.

“Our energy was up after that long drive, and we were giving it hell. We were giving it our all in our last game for the seniors,” Rock Falls senior running back Ryan McCord said. “We just told each other at halftime that we had to keep going, keep pushing, keep trying to score. We wanted to drive the ball down the field again.”

Rock Falls did carry that momentum into the second half, and opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 45-yard drive that took up more than seven minutes, but ended with a turnover on downs at the Dixon 20-yard line.

Rock Falls’ Diego Hernandez fight off a tackle from Dixon’s Cort Jacobson Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Dixon then went 80 yards in eight plays – Wiseman had a 27-yard run, Shaner had a 10-yard run, and Ramsdell had a 12-yard run on an end-around during the drive – and Wiseman scored from a yard out for a 42-0 lead with 1:13 left in the third quarter.

“We lost intensity on their long drive in the first half, but when we got the stop and blocked the field goal, it just upped our intensity,” Ramsdell said. “Then we stopped the drive to start the second half, and that helped seal the game and keep that shutout.”

Rock Falls fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Dukes started at the Rockets’ 18. Backup running back Earl Jones capped that drive with a 1-yard plunge, and the Dixon sideline exploded in cheers for the senior scoring in his final game at A.C. Bowers Field.

Shaner ran for 103 yards and threw for 162 on 7-for-8 passing, with four total touchdowns. Wiseman had 99 yards and two scores on the ground, St. Pier had four catches for 66 yards and two TDs, and Ramsdell had two catches for 96 yards and a score. Dixon outgained Rock Falls 419-119 in total yards.

“Winning tonight for us seniors, it’s an amazing feeling, and I know all the boys are happy,” St. Pier said. “To see all the smiles out here, it’s amazing.”

Rock Falls’ Brady Dowd picks up yards in the first quarter Friday, Oct. 21, 2022 against Dixon.

While there were some tears in the Rock Falls postgame huddle, the mood was mostly a positive one for the Rockets. The two long drives, while not ending in points, helped show the players what was possible after a season full of hard work.

McCord and fellow senior Brady Dowd both gave props to their offensive line for making those drives possible.

“I think once that line starts figuring it out and they’re able to create those holes, it’s almost endless what this offense can do,” Dowd said. “The way it’s set up, it’s based off the run. Once those big boys up front are moving, it makes it so much easier for us.”

“That’s the beauty of our offense, it’s based on our line. If our line opens holes, we’ll get yards,” McCord added. “They were doing a great job making holes for us, and we were just putting our heads down and running hard. It’s so easy when the holes are there.”

McCord finished with 58 yards on 15 carries, and Dowd had 36 yards on 11 rushes. Vincent Lombardo was 6-for-17 passing for 39 yards, and Dowd (12 yards) and Colin Cook (17 yards) both had two catches. The Rockets finished with

While nobody wants to lose their final high school football game, the Rock Falls seniors were proud of the effort they gave in the season finale.

“Us seniors, you want to go out as strong as you possibly can, and leave everything on the field, and I feel like the seniors out here played hard,” Dowd said. “Ryan here especially, he gave it his all the whole game, and I’m proud of all of my teammates.”

Rock Falls’ Vincent Lombardo tosses the ball to Ryan McCord Friday, Oct. 21, 2022 against Dixon.