MIDDLETOWN — Eastern Hancock’s Redemption Tour 2013 is over. Now the Royals begin preparing for a football postseason encore.
In a battle of unbeatens, the Class A No. 6 Royals defeated 2A No. 8 Shenandoah 68-19 Friday to complete a 5-0 sweep of teams they lost to in 2012. Shenandoah dealt the Royals a 31-17 loss last season. EH also fell to Indian Creek, Knightstown, Milan and North Decatur a year ago on the way to a 6-6 season.
“It just shows you that they’ve bought in,” EH coach Pat Echeverria said of the team’s rise to greatness. “Not just in what we’re trying to coach them on the field, but in every aspect of it — working hard in the weight room in the offseason and in class and everything else.
“It’s a testament to the kids and the rest of the coaches. It’s a unified staff and a unified team and we all do it together.”
Save for a 33-25 comeback win over Indian Creek, the Royals beat the first four squads on their revenge list this season with relative ease, with two shutouts and a 25-point win over Milan.
Given Shenandoah’s resume — the highest scoring team in the state entering play — this contest might have resembled the Royals’ tight win over Indian Creek. Instead, it was just another blowout display of the Eastern Hancock offensive juggernaut in the next-to-last regular season game of the season. The Royals scored touchdowns (and two-point conversions) on their first five possessions of the first half. They opened the game with a six-play drive capped by a Logan Splater 22-yard run. EH’s Spencer Gilbert recovered a fumble on Shenandoah’s ensuing drive, and Cooper Henderson made them pay for the turnover with a two-yard touchdown run on EH’s next drive to make it 16-0 less than five minutes into the contest.
“With our style of offense and our tempo, we feel like if we can get a lead it’s going to be pretty tough to slow us down,” Echeverria said. “With (Shenandoah’s) offense, if they get the lead they can grind the clock down, so the fast start was huge.
“Our defense has really been doing that all year long. They’ve been forcing turnovers, making key stops that put our offense where it’s real easy to score.”