By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In the age of spread, Lebanon’s doing just fine with its old-school offense.
The Yellowjackets, behind their flexbone formation that features one fullback and two other ball-carriers split to the side, gashed Kickapoo for over 350 rushing yards in a 28-7 win Friday night.
As Lebanon coach Will Christian said, the physical, grinding style fits his blue-collar roster.
“When we switched to the flexbone in 2015, we didn’t do it just to be different. We did it because we thought it fit our kids really well,” he said.
“And it doesn’t hurt that we’re one of the only teams that do it. It’s certainly a hard prep.”
Lebanon senior Quameire Wright, a 5-foot-9, 220-pound fullback, led the way for Lebanon with 137 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
When it wasn’t Wright hammering Kickapoo up the middle, it was the Yellowjackets’ slot backs gaining big yards on sweeps and quick pitches.
Isaac Ledbetter and Kale Keagy combined for 184 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries.
“If I’m getting shut down, my slots… they’re working. They’ll get the ball,” Wright said.
Lebanon seized control late in the first half. The Yellowjackets scored two touchdowns in the final 1:13 to lead 21-0 at halftime.
Kickapoo aided Lebanon’s surge with a three-and-out and a turnover on its final two possessions of the first half.
Lebanon, leading 14-0, quickly took advantage of the late turnover. The Yellowjackets got a drive-starting, 27-yard run from Ledbetter.
Keagy then went 32 yards on back-to-back carries. Quarterback Curtis Mobley capped the quick drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left before halftime.
The Yellowjackets attempted only two passes in the game.
“We’re a throwback (team) a little bit, if you look at the way things are in football,” Christian said. “But it’s a great fit for us.”
Kickapoo had a promising start. The Chiefs opened the game with a 15-play drive to reach the Lebanon 15, only to turn the ball over on downs.
“We thought we left 21 (points) out there tonight,” said Chiefs coach Nate Thomas. “Two turnovers, a couple in the redzone when we were moving the ball.
“We had them on their heels, we just didn’t capitalize.”
Lebanon’s running game took over in the second half. Both teams only had two possessions. The Yellowjackets finished an 11-play drive with a 5-yard score from Mobley late in the third quarter.
Kickapoo got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when quarterback Cross Elmquist found receiver Chandler Taylor for a 16-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 5.
The Chiefs trailed Lebanon just 7-0 midway through the second quarter. Kickapoo had lost its past two meetings with the Yellowjackets by a combined margin of 90-28.
“I think our guys have started to buy into this thing,” Thomas said. “We have some great leaders, and I think they saw (the progress) as much as we did as coaches. We’re close.”
Lebanon hosts Springfield Central (0-1) next Friday. Kickapoo plays at Waynesville (0-1).
“We have some stuff to fix, but this is a good start,” Wright said.
Lebanon 28, Kickapoo 7
Lebanon 0 21 7 0 – 28
Kickapoo 0 0 0 7 – 7
Lebanon – Wright 5 run (Dustin kick)
Lebanon – Keagy 17 run (Dustin kick)
Lebanon – Mobley 1 run (Dustin kick)
Lebanon – Mobley 5 run (Dustin kick)
Kickapoo – Taylor 16 catch from Elmquist (Quadrini kick)
Unofficial stat leaders
Passing: Elmquist 15-for-26 for 130, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Maugans 13 for 29; Elmquist 6 for 18
Receiving: Cruse 6 for 32; Taylor 5 for 49, 1 TD
Rushing: Wright 22 for 137, 1 TD; Ledbetter 8 for 107; Keagy 6 for 77, 1 TD; Mobley 10 for 26, 2 TDs
Turnovers: Kickapoo 2, Lebanon 0