By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — SIGOURNEY — At Wapello, vs. Sigourney-Keota and at West Branch.
Last season, these three games stood in front of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. Wins in those three games would produce a ticket to the postseason for the Rockets.
Final scores in those games last season: Wapello 35, EBF 26. S-K 40, EBF 13. West Branch 62, EBF 24.
The net result was a season-ending six-game losing streak. According to Dillon Pigsley, it marked the end of a very frustrating season within the Rocket football squad.
“We had a lot of talent last year, but we just didn’t get along very well,” Pigsley said. “Because of that, we lost to teams we shouldn’t have.”
This season, the same three-game stretch stood in front of EBF with the exact same stakes. At 3-2 and 1-2 in Class 1A, District 6, games against Wapello, at Sigourney-Keota and vs. West Branch would make or break yet another Rocket football season.
Final scores so far this season: EBF 42, Wapello 34. EBF 24, S-K 0.
There’s still one more game to go, this Friday at home against West Branch. However, it would take several precise scenarios to play out to keep the Rockets out of the postseason even with a loss to the Bears.
After scoring the first win for head coach Eric Kellar at Sigourney-Keota on Friday, EBF has placed themselves in a much different position as a team with a very positive outlook heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
“This year, we’ve got a team that plays so well together,” Pigsley said. “Coach had us all sit down at the start of the year and asked us what we wanted to do this year, because we obviously had the talent to do it. All we had to say was ‘playoffs.’ We all wanted to make the playoffs.”
EBF currently stands in third place in Class 1A, District 6. Only top-ranked Iowa City Regina, who is attempting to match a state record by finishing its fourth consecutive perfect state championship seasons, and seventh-ranked Wilton are ahead of the Rockets in the district standings.
“It’s awesome. It’s feels great to know that we were able to do this and know that we’re the kind of team we all thought we could be,” Cory Archer, who had 106 yards and a touchdown against the Savage Cobras last Friday, said.
Last Friday’s battle of area 1A, District 6 teams was truly a pivotal one with both teams separated by half-a-game. The winner would put themselves in a very good position for making it to the playoffs while the losing team would see a steep uphill climb ahead of them to make the postseason.
After a 4-1 start to the season, losses in its past two games have left Sigourney-Keota on verge of elimination.
“We knew how physical a football game was going to be, but (EBF) just wanted it more than us,” S-K head coach Jared Jensen said. “Coming off the West Branch game (a 47-46 double overtime loss for the Savage Corbas) where we played so well, I think we just thought we were going to play just as well (against EBF). We felt confident, but when things weren’t going right for us we just didn’t seem to know how to respond.”
The Savage Cobras entered last Friday’s contest averaging 34.5 points a game, utilizing the top rushing offense in the district to pile up the points. To earn the must-have victory, EBF would have to play some of its best, most disciplined football to slow down vaunted S-K single-wing attack.
By the end of the night, EBF had limited the Savage Cobras to just 121 rushing yards as a team. Kolton Greiner, who’s elusiveness and speed has led him to nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards so far this season, was limited to just 49 rush yards and 45 receiving yards as the Rocket defense threw up constant brick walls throughout the contest.
“I think they had scored over 40 points over the last three games, but we just game-planned well and just executed,” Archer said of the EBF defensive effort.
After maintaining a scoreless tie until late in the first half, EBF finally broke through on offense by driving the field right before halftime to allow Lewie Winkleman to score a 27-yard field goal to put the Rockets a 3-0 lead. EBF then scored on Archer’s 49-yard touchdown burst to open a 10-0 advantage.
That was only the beginning of the Rockets surge to its most impressive win of the season. EBF countered a big break for S-K, recovering a muffed punt to give the Savage Cobras an excellent scoring chance, with one of its own as Kacy Dunwoody came up with the recovery of a Nate Sieren fumble inside the Rockets’ own 10-yard-line.
By the end of the night, EBF (5-2, 3-2) was moving the ball at will on offense and continuing to pitch a shutout on defense. Two final drives for the Rockets on offense ended with one-yard Pigsley scoring plunges, while S-K (4-3, 1-3) was stopped on four fourth-downs and a turnover in the contest.
“It just seemed like, when we needed to, we just couldn’t stop them and we just couldn’t move the ball,” Jensen said.
It was enough to leave Kellar almost speechless after watching his team execute so well in a place that has been so tough for EBF teams of the past to win at.
“It’s something that’s very special. I just don’t know what to say about how well we executed,” Kellar said. “You could tell the guys wanted this so much. It makes you so proud as a coach to see that from the kids.”
So after two weeks of creating big breaks by being the more physical and better executing team, EBF is one more win from locking up its postseason plans. The Rockets tough test tonight at Ike Ryan Field, however, seems a lot less daunting considering how well the last two weeks have gone for EBF.
“We played as one. We got picked apart in our last loss against Wilton and we could have come apart,” Pigsley said. “Instead, we chose to stay together and play as one.”
S-K, meanwhile, heads to Cardinal tonight. Besides needed to beat the Comets, and top-ranked Iowa City Regina next Friday, the Savage Cobras will have to hope for several things to happen in the final two weeks to rally back for a return trip to the postseason.
“So many bad things can happen after a loss like this one. We’re going to be fighting and battling, but if we start splitting up things are going to go really badly for us,” Jensen said. “I just hope the guys can stick together.”
“You can’t take anything away from EBF, though. They are a very well-coached team.”
To follow Scott Jackson's Twitter feed, go to @stjack423
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 24, Sigourney-Keota 0
EBF 0 3 7 14 — 24
S-K 0 0 0 0 — 0
Scoring By Quarters
EBF — Lewie Winkleman 27 yard field goal, :00
EBF — Cory Archer 49 yard run (Winkleman kick), 8:42
EBF — Dillon Pigsley 1 yard run (Winkleman kick), 4:40
EBF — Pigsley 1 yard run (Winkleman kick), :30
First downs 		17 		11
Rushes-yards 		52-281 	42-121
Passing yards 		13 		45
Total Yards	 	294 		167
Comp-Att-Int 		1-3-0 		4-12-0
Return Yards 		5-42 		7-71
Fumbles-Lost 		2-1 		4-1
Penalties-Yds 		6-65 7-60
RUSHING — Cory Archer 14-106 yards, TD, Hunter Johnston 10-60 yards, Ty Jager 9-56 yards, Dillon Pigsley 11-24 yards, Jeren Glosser 2-23 yards, Treg Van Dorin 5-10 yards, Cody Brown 1-2 yards.
PASSING — Pigsley 1-3, 13 yards.
RECEIVING — Blake Marolf 1-13 yards.
TACKLES — Johnston 10, Glosser 8, Dalton Brown 6, sack, Kacy Dunwoody 5, fumble recovery, Jager 6, Luke Welch 5, Archer 4, Van Dorin 4, sack, Bret Wursta 4, Cody Brown 3, Aaron Gordon 3, sack, Marolf 2, Pigsley 2, Jason Bressell, Gaige Gardner, Andrew Larkin, Jayce Riley.
RUSHING — Kolton Greiner 12-49 yards, Nate Sieren 17-42 yards, fumble, Peyton Crawford 4-14 yards, Blaine Gretter 8-12 yards, Avery Moore 1-4 yards.
PASSING — K. Gretter 4-12, 45 yards.
RECEIVING — K. Greiner 4-45 yards.
TACKLES — Jeremiah Green 8, Cole Streigle 8, Sieren 7, Noah Schuster 5, Crawford 4, sack, K. Greiner 4, Derek Berg 3, fumble recovery, Tucker Fowler 3, Curtis Klett 3, Kevin Weber 3, sack, Lane Boender 2, Ben Horras 2, Shane Swearingen 2, Bryce Brown, Gage Greiner, Gretter, Colby Kerkove, Moore, Noah Reeves, Colton Schwenke, Jacob Wickencamp.