GREENSBURG — Second-year head coach Jim O’Hara is off to a memorable start with the Eastern Hancock Royals football team.
With a 42-18 win against North Decatur on Friday, Class 2A No. 2 Eastern Hancock improves to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Mid-Indiana Football Conference, giving O’Hara a 16-3 record as the Royals’ head man.
More importantly, the win locks up O’Hara’s first MIFC championship at Eastern Hancock, which finished 4-1 in 2014 behind Indian Creek (5-0).
“It’s a heck of an accomplishment, especially for our seniors,” O’Hara said of the conference title. “I think all three sides of the ball played well for the first three quarters, but that’s a good win. Give North Decatur credit there at the end.”
The Royals played like conference champs Friday at Ed Kaelin Field, scoring 36 points in the first half led by Devin Denny’s 160 yards of total offense (85 rushing). The junior running back opened the game with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and finished with 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Senior receiver Austin Smith followed Denny’s kickoff return with a 25-yard run of his own, capping a nine-play, 85-yard drive to give the Royals a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
“We have a lot of good skill people who compliment each other,” O’Hara added. “Denny and Smitty (Austin Smith) are very, very fast.”
After 22 points in the second quarter, with scores from three different players, Eastern Hancock led 36-0 at the break. Sophomore quarterback Jarett Lewis was 8 for 11 passing in the opening half for 116 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, Caleb Beyers and Cole Coachard intercepted North Decatur (4-2, 2-2 MIFC) sophomore quarterback Evan Smith once apiece in the first half.
Senior running back Matt Bowman opened the third quarter scoring for the Royals with a five-yard touchdown run after a seven-play, 28-yard drive that ate up nearly four minutes of clock.
The Chargers would answer on the ensuing kickoff, however, as junior Cory Fasbinder dashed 85 yards for a score, cutting the Royals’ lead to 42-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Smith added a touchdown passes of 25 and 65 yards in the final quarter for North Decatur, but it would not be enough to threaten a comeback.
Austin Smith, who erupted for three touchdowns last week and nearly broke the school record for receiving yards in a game, finished with 92 total yards and one touchdown for the Royals.
Entering Friday, Indian Creek and North Decatur were tied at 2-1 (second) in conference play.
Eastern Hancock looks to remain undefeated next week with a home game against Class A Wes-Del. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.