Covering the Land of Lincoln

Senior running backs lead the way as Fulton heads to Rockford for second round matchup

Nov 5—FULTON — The Steamers have been a solid football team all year long, leaning on their senior talent to help lead the way to a strong season.

They are currently 8-2 on the year with one of their two losses coming to Lena-Winslow who is ranked number one in Class 1A.

Last week the Steamers picked up a 38-13 win over Aurora Christian to advance to the second round of the 1A playoffs. They are now on the road this week, facing Rockford Lutheran who is 6-4 and is coming off of an upset win over Wethersfield/Annawan.

“They’re definitely a good football team. They are a team that plays bigger schools all year in the Big Northern Conference.” Fulton head coach Patrick Lower said.

The Crusaders are a fast and athletic team that plays in a tough conference so their record is not a great indicator of how good they really are.

“They’re gonna be ready for us. We have to play well because they’re very fast and athletic. We’ll have to be ready to go.” Lower said.

Defensively the Steamers will need to make their tackles and not let the Crusaders use their athleticism to sneak past them.

“We have to be able to tackle these guys in space. We have to make sure we understand our coverages and what we’re doing.” Lower said.

Zane Pannell and Joel Ford are two seniors that have made a huge impact defensively for Fulton. Ford leads the team with 113 total tackles and 17 tackles for loss. Pannell is right behind him with 111 total tackles and 14 tackles for loss.

“We have a great defensive coordinator in coach Germann and he has done a good job of getting these guys in the right spaces but we have to be able to make plays because this team can be kinda slippery.” Lower said.

Offensively the Steamers will need to be able to hold onto the football in what could be rainy weather at game time.

“They like to blitz a lot so we have to make sure that we have our blitz pick ups going. We have to play well and hang onto the football.” Lower said.

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Quarterback Brayden Dykstra has progressed all year long for the Steamers which has allowed them to be two dimensional. The pass game has added another weapon to their arsenal.

“Hey [Brayden Dykstra] has had a really good year for us. We just hope he keeps going and keeps doing what he has been doing. He understands what we need from him.” Lower said.

They also have three great options at running back. Ryan Eads, Lukas Schroeder and Joel Ford are all seniors and they have all had big games for Fulton. Their numbers may not pop out in the stats column but that is because they share the carries. None of them get overloaded which has created a nice balance.

Schroeder leads the team with 624 yards rushing on 111 carries. Eads is right behind him with 567 yards on 119 carries. Ford rounds out the trio as more of a fullback with 288 yards on 49 carries.

“It’s great. The more options the marrier and we try to spread the ball around. We’ve had nine different guys touch the ball whether that is catching it or running it.” Lower said.

The Steamers will look to pick up a win at their 1 pm game on Saturday against Rockford Lutheran. If they win that will guarantee them another home playoff game next week.

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