JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Without much varsity experience in the opening game of the season, facing the reigning state champions, it was a stage too big for the Shelbyville Rams, who were not ready for prime time and lost 40-0.
As sophomores last year, the now junior-led Rams, showed promise in limited roles. But with the weight of starting varsity on their shoulders, Maroa was too big of a monkey on their back.
No one expected a Buster Douglas knockout of Mike Tyson when the Rams faced Maroa right out of the box. But Shelby had trouble tackling and had trouble snapping the ball. That put blood in the water for the Maroa scoring machine and the Trojan defense.
Maroa had also had three touchdowns called back on penalties and there was a running clock for most of the 2nd half or the score would have been much worse. Maroa put up 388 yards of offense, mostly in the 1st half, to Shelbyville's 115 yards of offense.
The Rams had one drive that got them in the red zone, down just 14-0 in the 2nd quarter. They were competing well. But they were stopped and Maroa quickly scored on three plays to break their back. You could stick a fork in the Rams, they were done with 6:00 left in the 1st half.
The Rams coughed up the ball and Maroa scored on one play, 27-0. On the next Ram possession, Shelby had to punt from their own end zone and Maroa scored again on one play, to lead 33-0 at the half.
Maroa's QB, Hockaday, had 251 yards passing in the 1st half and threw for four touchdowns. He also ran for 54 yards and a TD. Shelby had just 78 yards of offense in the 1st half.
Hockaday didn't play in the 2nd half, but his replacement scored on one play to make it 40-0 with 9:11 left in the 3rd quarter. The Ram star of the game in the second half was the running clock.
Next week, the Rams will be playing Off Broadway and, with this first game under their belt, they may have a chance at rave reviews after their opening night bomb.
Junior QB Lucas Duckett, starting his first game at the helm, was under duress and valiant in defeat. He threw 9-of-14 for 74 yards and one interception. He ran out of necessity for 25 yards to lead the rushing stats.
The Shelby defense played well when they were fresh and as Maroa struggled with penalties.
Ram senior Matt White tipped a pass on the first Maroa possession on 3rd and 2 near midfield. Maroa went for it on 4th down and failed. Shelby got the ball on the Maroa 45.
After a penalty negated a Maroa TD on their next possession, Maroa went for it on 4th and 22 and junior Wyatt Fox defended the pass and Shelby got the ball back on their own 32 yard line.
Junior Adam Hudson also tipped a pass forcing 2nd and 10 on the next Maroa possession near midfield. But, Hockaday broke tackles and scored on the next play to put Maroa up 7-0. On the next Maroa possession, Ben Houska and White stopped a Trojan run on 2nd and 1. But, on 3rd and 2 a screen pass went in for the score, to make it 14-0.
Senior tight end Luke McConnell had flashes of brilliance receiving in the 1st half, but wasn't a factor in the 2nd half. Junior Tyler Hendryx was key on the Ram drive to the red zone in the 2nd quarter and Fox had a big catch to get to the Trojan 13 yard line. Robbie Boarman had a 1st down reception, before things degenerated.
In the 2nd half, once it became a JV game, sophomore Bart Kennell was the Ram star on defense. At the start of the 4th quarter he had a sack and either blocked or pressured Maroa on a punt to give the Rams the ball in Maroa territory. Kennell also was in on a sack that forced a fumble recovered by White.
Shelby almost got to the red zone as time wound down in the game. They started from their own territory and Duckett converted a 1st down. Hendryx had a near 1st down run and Duckett had another 1st down as the game ended.
Maroa 40, Shelbyville 0
1st (1:46)-(M) Hockaday run 45 yds, x pt good, 7-0
2nd (11:54)-(M) Hockaday pass 30 yds, x pt good, 14-0
2nd (6:26)-(M) Hockaday pass 48 yds, ex pt good, 21-0
2nd (4:00)-(M) Hockaday pass 21 yds, xpt no good, 27-0
2nd (1:46)-(M) Hockaday pass 6 yds, xpt no good, 33-0
3rd (9:11)-(M) QB run 57 yds, xpt good, 40-0
Ram stats: OFFENSE 115 yds; RUSHING-Duckett 15 for 24 yds; Hendryx 6 for 16 yds; Fox 1-for-5 yds; Patch 4 for 3 yds; Finley 1 for 3 yds; PASSING-Duckett 9-of-14, 74 yds; RECEIVING-Hendryx 2 for 23 yds; McConnell 2 for 29 yds; Fox 1 for 9 yds; Boarman 1 for 9 yds; Patch 2 for 3 yds; 1st Downs 8 (5 pass, 3 rush).