Warriors smother Gibsonburg in shutout win

SYCAMORE — Before the season started, Mohawk coach Brent Konkle gushed about his defense, especially the front seven.

After his defense’s performance Friday against Gibsonburg, when it held the Golden Bears to 111 total yards in a 16-0 victory, Konkle’s infatuation was validated.

“As a team, it was a really great win. We tackled extremely well tonight,” Konkle said, “and that’s where you are going to win games. The rain and the grass is slick, but we didn’t let any of things bother us on defense.

“We did a good job of going to our keys all night on defense. It wasn’t one guy, but as a team, we played really well on defense.”

Mohawk (3-0) dominated the game up front on both sides of the ball, but just couldn’t score, especially in the first half. The Warriors had the ball inside Gibsonburg’s 30 five times and didn’t get any points as the half ended scoreless.

“We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, but we shot ourselves in the foot,” Konkle said. “Give them credit. They played pretty dang solid up front. I’m proud of that fact we never lost any confidence.

“On the field, we dominated the game, except on the scoreboard in the first half. In the second half, I thought we did the same thing up front.”

Gibsonburg’s (2-1) offense didn’t help its defense much, trying to run into a stout Mohawk front and turning the ball over twice on its side of the field.

However, it didn’t make anything easy for the Warriors.

“Their movement was giving us fits. We’ve got a young offensive line and it really showed,” Golden Bears coach Mike Lee said. “You can’t simulate that in practice, either. Those guys are good. Those linebackers then scrape right off of them. Their movement … and it’s tough to find them. They are a good football team.

“I told the kids I loved their effort tonight, but we were making mistakes. We had blitzes right on where they were going and we just didn’t make a tackle. Instead of a 2-yard gain it might have been a 14-yard gain. Once they got down to the goaline things tighten up and we did a good job there.”

After a good 23-yard field goal from Mohawk’s Kedryk Leeth set up from a Golden Bears fumble early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors got a big play from Keith Jenkins.

In one of the few passes Gibsonburg attempted all night, Jenkins read the quarterback and stepped in front of a pass to set up his offense at Gibsonburg’s 33 with 7:41 left.

“We changed our coverage up at halftime a little bit to make it look just like it always looks, (Jenkins) disguised it and he jumped it,” Konkle said. “That’s a time where a senior leader makes a play. That play right there won the game for us tonight I feel.”

Jenkins ran for a 12-yard gain and then threw a strike to Zach Hayman for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 10-0 advantage.

Just trying to run some clock up by 10, Bryce Kirian ripped off a 60-yard run up the gut to the Gibsonburg 19. Jenkins ran the ball 13 yards on first down and then tacked on an 8-yard score on the ground to put the Golden Bears away.

Gibsonburg played well up front for most of the night, but the QB run with Jenkins was the key. Jenkins finished the night with 24 carries for 191 yards.

“Keith has grown up so much as a quarterback and as a person. He was thrown to the wolves his sophomore year starting at quarterback in Week 1,” Konkle said. “He’s got the mentality to lead us and to run the ball.

“In the first half, we dropped a few balls and we had some balls not delivered on time, but he never lost confidence.”

Jenkins added: “Our line did a great job tonight giving me holes to run through. I give my credit to them.”

Kirian carried the ball 11 times for 90 yards, while Gibsonburg’s Brad Mendoza ran for 50 yards on 18 touches.

Konkle is happy with the 3-0 start to the season, but with the Northern 10 Athletic Conference beginning next week and rival Carey coming to Sycamore, things are just getting started.

“I told our coaches that this was a trap game. Gibsonburg is good and they are going to win eight or maybe nine games,” Konkle said. I love the format (three non-conference games) and now league starts.

“It’s always a hard-fought battle with Carey. I know we’ve won over there twice and they’ve won over here twice, so hopefully we defend our home field. It’s a big game.”