Last season, Deer Creek-Mackinaw head coach Job Linboom experienced something he’s never experienced as a head coach.
For the first time in his 11-year career, Linboom’s team blew a two touchdown lead in the second half after leading 34-20 at halftime. Minonk Fieldcrest beat the Chiefs 40-34 in a Heart of Illinois Conference game, the only conference loss of Dee-Mack’s season.
Fieldcrest (2-3, 0-2) has won each of the last four meetings since 2013 — including a 2014 postseason win. The streak has been a topic of conversation in the Dee-Mack locker room, especially among the seniors who haven’t beat the Knights in their varsity career.
Class 2A No. 2 Dee-Mack (5-0, 2-0) hosts Fieldcrest at 7 p.m. Friday for its homecoming game.
Last season’s loss haunts the Chiefs, who had two chances to tie the game late, but a fumble and a penalty stalled their hopes.
“We were pretty upset with ourselves, we felt like we let one get away from us,” Linboom said. “We’ve definitely talked a lot about last year’s game.”
The Chiefs’ offensive philosophy is well documented: run the football.
On defense, Dee-Mack is tasked with stopping 6-foot-4, 185-pound quarterback Cam Grandy who has 845 passing yards, 340 rushing yards and 13 combined TD’s.
Grandy will likely act fast to offset the Chief’s defense.
“Offensively, we will need to get the ball out quick to our receivers in space,” Fieldcrest head coach Derek Schneeman said. “Dee-Mack is physical and aggressive. We need to try to use that aggressiveness to our advantage.”
Receivers Derek May (23 catches, 345 yards, 5 TD’s) and Mike Morse (15 catches, 181 yards, 2 TD’s) will be the likely recipients of Grandy’s passes.
Linboom expects a heavy dose of screens from the Knights, but realizes other factors could help slow the Fieldcrest offense.
Expected rain could derail the quick-passing attack of the Knights and Linboom will use his offense to slow Grandy.
The quarterback also lines up at defensive end. Hard-nose running from running backs Jared Reese and Preston Lester could tire Grandy and slow him on offense.
“He’s a little bit of a bigger guy. If they do put him on the D-line, maybe we can rough him up a little bit and run the ball at him so he’s not as fresh on offense,” Linboom said.
Schneeman knows stopping Reese and Lester is his defense’s primary goal Friday. The backs have combined to run for 1,040 yards through five games this season. Fieldcrest will try to force Dee-Mack into obvious passing situations to take the ball out of the running back’s hands.
“Their offense will be tough to stop,” Schneeman said. “Jared Reese and Preston Lester are two very good backs with a combination of size and speed that you rarely see at the 2A level.”
With revenge on their mind and a homecoming crowd, Linboom expects a big showing from his experienced team.