The Hamburg Lions football found a new home on Friday: the end zone. The Lions returned there seven times to defeat the Monticello Billies 49-21 in the annual homecoming game at Campbell Field.
Hamburg’s offense was firing on all cylinders as they racked up 481 total offensive yards on only 41 offensive plays – an average of 11.7 yards per play.
“We started fast again,” head coach Cecil Ray Cossey said. “Anytime you can get a quick start, it really puts the pressure on the other team. That’s three weeks in a row and we need to keep that up.”
The Lions (4-1, 2-0) looked to put the Billies away early and got out to a 35-0 lead with 8:22 left in the second quarter.
Five different Lions scored in the first half – including two rushing touchdowns by junior wide receiver D.J. Johnson – as the Lions took a 41-14 lead into the break.
Johnson has established himself as a threat carrying the ball; he leads the team in rushing average among players with 10 or more carries. On Friday, he carried the ball five times for 99 yards and two scores.
“That position in the offense has historically been a running threat,” Cossey said. “In fact, two of my four years (at Hamburg], the leading rusher has been that slot receiver.”
Monticello’s first two drives ended in punts after three-and-outs; they also lost possession three times on turnovers – two lost fumbles and an intercepted pass. The Billies put their first points on the board with 3:33 left in the first half. They scored again on a trick play with one second left in the half.
“If that’s going to happen, you want it to happen early,” Cossey said about the defense falling for the trick play. “If that ever happens again, I hope our defensive backs make the right play.”
Senior running back Derrick Webb scored his second touchdown of the game in the third quarter and Cossey went for the two-point conversion to increase the lead to 35 to initiate the running game clock.
“The way I look at that is it’s injury prevention,” Cossey said. “It’s not so we can say we ‘mercy-ruled’ somebody because that means nothing. If another team did that to us, heaven forbid we get in that situation, I would have no hard feelings at all.”
Webb finished with 10 carries for 71 yards and two scores. The Lions rushed for 293 yards as a team.
The Billies had success through the air after the first quarter. The Lions’ defense appeared gassed at times, whether from the persistence of the Monticello offense or the short drives from their own offense.
“Part of that was from chasing the quarterback and not making the play,” Cossey said. “If we make those plays, our snaps are cut by, probably, 40 percent.”
He said he won’t ever slow the offense down because scoring quickly is what it will take to beat Warren.
Six of Hamburg’s seven scoring drives were four plays or fewer in length and their longest scoring drive – 10 plays – only lasted for four and a half minutes of game time.
“(The defense has] got to be conditioned to handle that,” he said. “We have to have the ability to score fast if we have any chance of beating (Warren].”
This Friday, the Lions travel to Star City to face the Bulldogs in conference play. Hamburg lost at home to Star City last season 28-27.
“We laid an egg last year,” Cossey said. “Our hope is to be 7-1 when we face Warren.”