One step closer: Fisher beats Heyworth; one win from playoff eligibility

By JOSH HOHULIN

Rantoul Press correspondent

FISHER — The Bunnies are that much closer to beating the odds, overcoming the doubters and achieving all that they set out to accomplish this season.

Expected to win three games all year, the Fisher football team shoved aside the status quo and pushed for a lofty goal of five wins and a playoff berth.

Now, six weeks in, the Bunnies find themselves at 4-2 and riding a three-game winning streak after taking down Heyworth 47-29 during Friday’s homecoming showdown.

“If feels really good to be able to bounce back (like we have),” senior Jaden Jones-Watkins said. “(We’re in) a great position to get into the playoffs.”

With a few adjustments and a “brick-by-brick” commitment to getting a little better each week, Fisher now has a very realistic shot at the fifth, and possibly sixth, wins needed to finish the task.

Five wins makes them playoff eligible, while six wins cements a playoff spot.

The team travels to face the vaunted Tri-Valley (5-1) crew first, before winnable games against LeRoy (2-4) and Tremont (1-5) to wrap things up.

A win is a win

Fresh off an upset of then-undefeated and 2A’s second-ranked Dee-Mack, the Bunnies did everything they could to avoid a mental letdown for an easier opponent.

“This was one of our best weeks of practice,” Fisher coach Jake Palmer said. “Our coaching staff is really hard on the kids and had really high expectations for this week coming off a big win. We tried to make sure we rode out that momentum.”

And they did, but it wasn’t perfect, as Heyworth brought its A-game and kept itself within striking distance until the end.

On three separate occasions, when it looked like the Bunnies were about to run away with a win, the Hornets found the end zone and made it a one- or two-possession game.

Up 21-7, 28-14, and 41-21, Fisher saw Heyworth respond on each occasion to close the gap with a score.

Jones-Watkins and fellow seniors Jacob Horsch and Kade Thomas all credited a lack of energy as part of the reason Heyworth hung around, while taking note of how much better Heyworth is than its record would indicate.

“I think a lot of guys were thinking ‘This is just going to be a breeze,” Bunnies quarterback Thomas said. “They came out, and they came out big. That is not a 1-4 team in my book.”

The duo of Thomas and Jones-Watkins accounted for seven touchdowns and 379 total rushing yards — with Jones-Watkins scoring five touchdowns on 264 rushing yards while Thomas took 13 carries for 115 yards and two scores.

“We have a lot of momentum after the Dee-Mack win, and then this homecoming win, but coach is probably going to chew us out in film room because there were a lot of plays where we just didn’t execute,” Jones-Watkins said. “I’m kind of glad to just get out of it with a win.”

Due to some needed improvements before the final three-game stretch, Palmer had his boys in the film room on homecoming morning to immediately address any issues.

Still, Palmer gleamed with pride for the way his players responded to the early struggles.

“Just the way things didn’t kind of go our way early. We had some bad things happen, didn’t necessarily execute and do the right things in the first half,” Palmer said. “Second half, I thought we came out and it got a little bit closer at the end then we would have liked. But I thought we really slammed the door.”

Dawson Purvis led the Bunnies with nine tackles while Jacob Horsch and Will Delaney each added eight.

sports@rantoulpress.com

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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