Royals’ offense grabs control

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock football team played their first home game of the 2017 season for a fallen teammate.

“We know that Riley is still with us and he’ll always be with us,” Royals head coach Jim O’Hara said.

Riley Settergren died in a car accident five weeks before what would have been his last home opener as a senior.

“Our guys have been through a lot,” O’Hara said. “We’re still mourning Riley.”

The Royals brought home a 53-7 victory against South Decatur for Settergren to move their record to 1-1. Penalties were called left and right while Eastern Hancock had an error-filled first half. But the errors were outweighed by defensive stops, big runs and key forced turnovers by Clayton Cochard.

Quarterback Jarrett Lewis broke through for one of those big runs in the second play for the Royals offense. A 34-yard touchdown was followed by an even more impressive breakthrough for Lewis.

He reached 40 career-passing touchdowns in a 12-yard toss to Luke Splater which set a new school record, breaking Steve Stunda’s record in 2010.

The big plays continued for the Royals, except this time on defense.

Cochard recovered two fumbles and had a pick-six all in the first half. After 2 of 4 fruitful drives, the Royals were up 14-0, but Cochard had plans for more.

“He did a nice job of getting to his zone,” O’Hara said. “It was right where he was supposed to be and that was a great play.”

Cochard cut across the middle to snatch a short South Decatur pass. He finished the play with a 58-yard touchdown to give Eastern Hancock a 21-0 separation after the first quarter, which South Decatur would never recover from.

Spencer Maxwell and A.J. Muegge switched off for four more rushing touchdowns while sophomore Connor Bennett polished off the victory with a touchdown of his own.

“I didn’t think we played very sharp the first half — a lot of penalties, a lot of mistakes, bad snaps,” O’Hara said. “I thought the second half they were a little bit more focused.”

This was the Royals’ first win of the season and first win for Settergren.

In the game program, the Settergrens wrote a letter to the Eastern Hancock community.

“We are humbled by the out pouring of love and generosity and pray for the healing of this great school and family community,” the letter read. “A special thank you to the school board, administration and staff of the Eastern Hancock School Corporation for your support for opening up the school for counseling as well as during the visitation and funeral. For our family this brings a new meaning to ‘Loyal Royals.’”