WATERLOO – East Noble football coach Luke Amstutz gathered around his team Friday night and repeated “that was a statement.” He said it over and over again as his players cheered.
The Knights felt slighted, forgotten about, disrespected and overlooked. They took exception to the fact that DeKalb, who like them, started the season 4-0, was predicted by many to win; a Baron team that hasn’t beat East Noble in 12 years and has fallen to the Knights 13 straight times.
So the Knights came into enemy territory and easily beat the Barons 35-7 to remain undefeated and atop the NE8.
“We took exception to all the people on the news and everybody kind of proclaiming they (DeKalb) were the big, bad, nasty team,” Amstutz said. “We’ve been doing it for a long time and that was the motivation for our kids like, ‘hey we’re still here.’"
It was a statement by the Knights from the beginning. Jacob VanGorder punched the ball into the end zone from from two yards out to put East Noble up 7-0 early.
Knights’ quarterback Bailey Parker connected with Hayden Jones, who was back from a concussion suffered earlier in the season, on a 36-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
“It feels great to beat your rivals,” Jones said. “The whole week we looked forward to beating them and it was just a great feeling."
Parker connected with Jones later in the third quarter as the senior quarterback finished with 257 passing yards on 15 of 27 attempts and three touchdowns. He also iced the game with a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“I think he’s developed a trust in a lot of different people,” Amstutz said. “He’s staying calm and he’s making the right decisions in the right situations. I think last year he had a tendency to force a few things and this year he understands sometimes you gotta throw it away.”
The Knights have a lot of offensive weapons. Between Jones and Gage Ernsberger, and tight end Rowan Zolman, who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the first half, Parker has his choice of targets.
“That’s as good of a receiving corp. as we’ve probably had in a long time," Amstutz said.
DeKalb showed some life, scoring on its first possession out of halftime on a Tanner Jack four-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 21-7, but the points weren't coming.
Senior Baron quarterback Evan Eshbach finished with 123 yards on 12-of-22 passing. He also led the team in rushing with 64 yards.
Amstutz also preached to his team that the scary part of their win is that they can be even better and take advantage of those big moments.
"We were very disappointed in how we ended the season last year," he said. ... I think our offseason has just been about understanding that you only get so many moments and you have to take advantage of them.”