KNOX COUNTY – The KMAC’s ‘Big Three’ – East Knox, Northmor and Highland – all stayed even atop the conference standings on Friday, while Danville won its first game of the season. In the OCC, Mount Vernon dropped its third straight.
With four weeks remaining in the regular season, conference title races are heating up across the region. Here’s what happened on Friday night:
East Knox 42
After a first half of the season in which East Knox (6-0, 3-0 KMAC) faced three winless teams, the Bulldogs had their first test of the season on Friday night at Centerburg (3-3, 1-2 KMAC). They passed with flying colors.
East Knox dominated all four quarters, using a suffocating defensive effort to set up a balanced offensive attack. The Bulldogs held Centerburg to just 126 yards of total offense, most of which came in the fourth quarter. Trojan dual-threat quarterback John Sheasby was held to 44 total yards, as East Knox allowed just one first down in the first half.
On offense, East Knox quarterback Kadden Lester threw for 352 yards (239 in the first half) and three touchdowns. Through six weeks, Lester has yet to throw an interception. Running back Kasson Krownapple bullied his way to 166 yards and three touchdowns, while Lester's main target, receiver Caleb Gallwitz, hauled in seven receptions for 184 yards and two scores.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime and made it 42-0 early in the fourth quarter, as the clock ran most of the second half.
Northmor (6-0, 3-0 KMAC) survived a close first half before pulling away from Cardington-Lincoln (0-6, 0-3 KMAC) on Friday night.
The Golden Knights led 21-6 after one quarter, but the Pirates fought back to make it 28-20 at halftime. The game remained close until late in the third quarter, when Northmor found the end zone twice in two minutes to take a 40-20 lead heading into the final stanza.
Despite the appearance of a nailbiter, Northmor racked up 479 yards of total offense while holding Cardington-Lincoln to just 166. Northmor recorded 333 rushing yards, led by tailback Conor Becker, who tallied 256 yards on 25 carries (10.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns on Friday night.
Northmor quarterback Hunter Mariotti threw 8-of-11 for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Cardington-Lincoln was led by running back Mason Goers, who rushed for 106 yards and returned an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Nate Hickman threw 7-of-14 for 64 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Mount Gilead 0
Highland (5-1, 3-0 KMAC) extended its winning streak to five games in a blowout win over Mount Gilead (0-6, 0-3 KMAC) on Friday night.
The Fighting Scots’ defense let up just 76 total yards and the offense cruised to 419 itself, including 345 rushing yards. The Scots were led by tailback Tate Tobin, who recorded 83 yards on three carries and scored once. Running back Jack Weaver had 75 yards and one touchdown on four carries. In total, 15 Scots carried the ball on Friday and eight had 20 yards or more.
Highland quarterback Ian Taylor threw 4-of-6 for 62 yards and one touchdown.
Meanwhile, Mount Gilead quarterback Nathan Rodgers led the Indians with 39 yards on 4-of-10 passing.
Highland led 44-0 at halftime, having scored 22 points in each of the first two quarters.
Danville (1-5, 1-2 KMAC) got back on track offensively and broke into the win column on Friday night against Fredericktown (1-5, 1-2 KMAC).
The Blue Devils put together their best passing attack of the season behind big-time efforts from quarterback Dalton David and receiver Alex Holt. David threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-19 passing, while Holt caught one touchdown pass and finished with 108 total receiving yards. Holt was also Danville’s leading rusher on Friday, running six times for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
Danville led 28-14 at halftime after scoring on each of its first four possessions. The Blue Devils held a comfortable lead the whole second half, as the Freddies never found answers to Danville's potent offensive attack.
Fredericktown was led by quarterback Terry Fearn, who threw 13-of-33 for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Fearn also had a rushing touchdown, as he finished with 137 yards on the ground.
Danville got running back Chris Greenawalt back last week as well, as he ran for 43 yards and a score after sitting out Week 5. The Blue Devils amassed 462 yards of total offense on Friday, while holding Fredericktown to 306.
Mount Vernon 18
Mount Vernon (2-4) dropped its third straight game on Friday night in a closely contested, non-conference home battle against Zanesville (4-2).
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter before the Yellow Jackets fired back, scoring twice but also failing twice on two-point conversions. Zanesville took a 20-12 lead into halftime.
Zanesville proceeded to hold Mount Vernon to just eight points in the second half as the Blue Devils came away with a nine-point victory at Energy Field.
Mount Vernon was led by running backs Wyatt Gregory and Ashton Fisher, who rushed for 64 and 57 yards, respectively. Both scored touchdowns. Yellow Jacket quarterback Noah Hubbard threw 8-of-22 for 81 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Total yardage was nearly even between the two teams, although Mount Vernon had two turnovers while Zanesville had none.
KMAC blowouts… For those seeking a good ‘ole conference classic (or even a remotely close game), the KMAC has unfortunately not provided one after three weeks of play. Of the first 12 KMAC games played this season, the average final score deficit is 32.75 points. Think about that. The closest game was Danville’s 17-point win over Fredericktown last Friday – a game that never got closer than a two-score margin in the second half. The biggest blowout has been Highland’s win over Mount Gilead, a 58-0 drubbing. However, there may be hope on the horizon; the conference’s ‘Big Three’ of East Knox, Northmor and Highland will all play each other over the final four weeks of the season, which could provide for the best chance of a regular season nailbiter.
The KMAC’s ‘Big Three’... The field narrowed slightly at the top of the KMAC this week, as Centerburg dropped its second straight to a conference contender. East Knox, Northmor and Highland now all stand at 3-0 in the conference, while Centerburg, Fredericktown and Danville sit two games back (1-2) in second place. Things get interesting this week when the conference’s top three teams finally begin playing each other – Northmor will take on East Knox in Week 7, Highland will face East Knox in Week 9 and Northmor will play Highland in Week 10.
East Knox RB Kasson Krownapple… When watching the East Knox offense, which has scored 53 points per game over its first six contests, it’s easy to become fixated on the passing game. After all, the connection between quarterback Kadden Lester and his receivers is simply one-of-a-kind in the region. However, it should be noted that the Bulldogs’ first-class passing attack wouldn’t be the same without a dominant running game to balance it out. And senior tailback Kasson Krownapple, known for his contact-seeking, physical style of running, has been nothing short of dominant so far this season. He’s quietly racked up 916 rushing yards on 86 carries (good for 10.6 yards per carry) and has scored 21 touchdowns. While Northmor running back Conor Becker has rushed for 1,296 yards and 20 touchdowns, he’s done so on 62 more carries than Krownapple. And while Highland has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a team this year, the Scots have split duties between their four primary running backs, which they use almost every down (Brody Matthews, one of the four, has 82 carries himself). In other words, Krownapple, who may be the most underrated running back in the KMAC, has also been the most efficient through six weeks of play. Without him in the backfield (and a strong offensive line in front of him), the dominant East Knox offense would certainly not be the same.
1. East Knox (3-0, 6-0)
1. Northmor (3-0, 6-0)
1. Highland (3-0, 5-1)
2. Centerburg (1-2, 3-3)
2. Danville (1-2, 1-5)
2. Fredericktown (1-2, 1-5)
3. Cardington-Lincoln (0-3, 0-6)
3. Mount Gilead (0-3, 0-6)
Week 7 matchups:
- Northmor (6-0) at East Knox (6-0) – 7 p.m.
- Fredericktown (1-5) at Highland (5-1) – 7 p.m.
- Danville (1-5) at Cardington-Lincoln (0-6) – 7 p.m.
- Centerburg (3-3) at Mount Gilead (0-6) – 7 p.m.
1. Wooster (3-0, 4-2)
2. Ashland (2-0, 5-1)
3. West Holmes (2-1, 5-1)
3. Lexington (2-1, 2-4)
4. Mount Vernon (0-2, 2-4)
4. Mansfield Senior (0-2, 2-4)
5. Madison (0-3, 1-5)
Week 6 scoreboard:
- Wooster beat West Holmes, 47-20
- Lexington beat Mansfield Senior, 44-16
- Ashland beat Madison, 49-0
- Zanesville beat Mount Vernon, 27-18*
Week 7 matchups:
- Wooster (4-2) at Mount Vernon (2-4) – 7 p.m.
- Mansfield Senior (2-4) at Ashland (5-1) – 7 p.m.
- West Holmes (5-1) at Lexington (2-4) – 7 p.m.
- Madison (1-5) at St. Charles (2-4) – 7 p.m.*