The Nashville Hornets are back-to-back conference champions after Friday night’s 37-14 win over the DuQuoin Indians.
While a Hornet victory is not a new phenomenon this season — Nashville is 7-1 and undefeated 5-0 in the SIRR Mississippi conference — it does mark the first time the team has won on Van Merte Field since the 2004 win during the playoffs.
Nashville jumped ahead first 6-0 and never looked back. The second quarter success started early when Evan Knolhoff recovered a fumble and the Hornets returned with another trip to the end zone. A couple more touchdowns put Nashville ahead 27-7 before the halftime break. Garibay would score a field goal in the third, and another touchdown was tallied in the fourth.
An efficient ground game proved successful for Nashville. Connor Gladson had 18 carries for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Ian Blazier had 12 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown. Kolten Gajewski had 7 carries for 33 yards. Isaac Turner completed one carry for 15 yards and a touchdown.
In passing, Gajewski went 9 for 11 for 93 yards and one touchdown to Turner on an 8-yard score. Turner additionally tacked on six catches for 73 yards. Blazier had two catches for 9 yards and Nolan Heggemeier with a catch for 3 yards.
Heading into the post season, Nashville can hold its head high with this win. The last time the Hornets won in DuQuoin during the regular season was in the 1990s.
Hornets are repeat champs for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 squads under Bruce Reeder brought home the titles. It is also only the third time in school history (the other teams were in 1969 and 1970 with Mike Taylor at the helm.
“For the better part of three decades, they dominated this conference,” Head Coach Stephen Kozuszek told WNSV. “For the better part of 20, we had taken our fair share of grubbing here. Tonight it was our turn.”
Kozuszek also said he continues to see improvements each game and is looking forward to moving on to playoffs in a couple weeks.
“We bent a little bit but we didn’t break,” he said “We did a really good job up front and in the line of scrimmage.”
Photo cutline: The Hornets run onto the field during the home opener earlier this season. Nashville has now taken back-to-back SIRR Mississippi titles for the first time in 23 years.