BETHALTO - A rivalry was renewed Friday night at Hauser Field on the campus of Civic Memorial High School when the Eagles were paid a visit by their neighbors from Roxana.
A packed house greeted the Eagles and Shells as they ran onto the field, but that might have been the last big cheers from the CM sideline, as Roxana ran away with the game metaphorically and literally en route to a 49-6 win.
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The result keeps Roxana's perfect start to the season going at 3-0 now while CM picks up its first loss falling to 2-1.
It didn't take long for the visiting Shells to score, and they even brought out some trickery to do so. A designed halfback pass play saw Aidan Briggs wide open on the CM sideline for Roxana's first TD.
CM would fumble the ball on the next possession, gifting the Shells great field position, and they didn't waste much time finding the endzone as Terrel Graves rumbled home for a second Shell touchdown.
Four minutes hadn't even passed yet. The Shells pushed the tempo early and often.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone early," said Roxana head coach Wade DeVries. "(CM) is a young team, in their first home game, if it's back and forth early, you don't know which way the game is going to go."
Roxana's Andrew Ellis added in a rushing score of his own, and the Shells were up big before the first quarter horn.
CM had a hole to dig out of early, and in the second quarter, that hole started to resemble a crater.
Ellis found paydirt again with a short run for six, and Roxana now led 28-0. CM starting QB Jack Piening threw an interception on the next drive, and Evan Wells took Roxana's next offensive play to the house.
It was 35-0, and CM began to have more problems keeping the football, as bad snaps and penalties became a recurring problem for the Eagles.
Roxana added two more TDs before the half. Kael Hester got on the board with a receiving TD, and the Shells would block a CM punt in the Eagles’ end zone and fall on the loose ball for the points.
"I felt like we had more experience," said DeVries on his team's dominant first half. "You can just look up and down the roster and see that we have a team that's really hard to beat."
It was 49-0 at half, the result was all but sealed, but CM at least wanted to put on a good second-half performance in front of a packed Hauser Field.
The second half would indeed be better for CM. They kept Roxana off the board for the entirety of the third quarter, but couldn't get on the board themselves in the third frame, keeping it a seven-score game heading into the final quarter.
The Eagles did finally find the endzone in the final quarter when backup QB Tanner Hokamp connected with Christian Garrett for the lone CM touchdown of the evening.
Roxana merely played "keep away" in the final half, not running a single pass, keeping things simple on the ground.
The multi-faceted rush offense of the Shells kept CM off-balance for much of the game, and it's how the Shells would run the clock down to end this one, 49-6 the final in Bethalto.
"When you have the skill players we have, I think that can make up for some things," said DeVries of his Shells scorers. "I think we could execute better up front. I said before training camp that our goal is perfection."
While the second half was improved for the hosts, it didn't do much to brighten up a 43-point defeat. CM head coach Rick Reinhart didn't spend too much time talking to his team postgame before heading to the Eagle locker room, their team more than aware of their rough night at Hauser Field.
CM has another big local matchup next week when they head to Jerseyville (1-2) to take on the Panthers on the road.
It was an ideal third week for Roxana in their quest to rule the Riverbend, as coach DeVries wants his club to do. The Shells take on Columbia (0-3) next Friday.
"What I learned in my first year is that these rivalry games are different," said DeVries following the big win. "You can't treat them like they're not. We have to come into these games focused and I think we did that.”
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