CATLIN — The Salt Fork Storm showed its fans two things in Friday night’s 34-6 win over the Georgetown Ridge Farm/Chrisman Buffaloes.
The Storm showed how truly how deep and dynamic its offense truly is, and showed how dangerous it can be when they play a complete game on offense and defense.
Salt Fork was able to effectively attack with several runners on the ground and opened things up in the passing game too.
“Coach spreads the ball around,” Taylor Kirby said. “I run the sweep and that opens things up for Cole (Taylor), and Cole runs up the middle opening things up for me on the outside and both of us open some things up in the passing game.”
Kirby had 64 yards of total offense with one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown while Taylor rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown of his own.
The Storm even overcame the adversity of losing their starting quarterback to injury in the second half. Jacob Hughes suffered a leg injury in the third quarter and stepping in was Colton Fauver.
“There was a big battle between Hughes and Fauver going into the year,” Storm coach Brian Plotner said. “Hughes won the competition in the summer but Fauver was a close second. We have a lot of confidence in him to man that position. He came in very poised, calm and collective. He did an outstanding job for us.”
“He manned up really well tonight,” Kirby added. There were a few mistakes, but he stepped up and led the team.”
Fauver was able to lead the Storm on two scoring drives, including a four-yard touchdown run of his own.
For the Buffaloes, the loss was a disappointment and for interim coach Jay Williman, he felt like his team didn’t play to their full potential.
“We could have played better,” Williman said. “Our problem right now is that we are having trouble finishing. We aren’t playing a whole game — if we put together four quarters, who knows what we’re capable of.”
The game began with Salt Fork scoring on their first two drives. On the opening set, Cole Taylor had a 40 yard run that set up a 4 yard touchdown run by Kirby. Then on their second drive Jacob Hughes connected on a 21 yard pass to Jacob Hughes. Both times the Storm failed to score an extra point or two point conversion and led 12-0 in the early goings.
After trailing 12-0, the Buffaloes responded with a substantial drive that finished with a 6-yard run by Troy Rodriguez. But then on the following possession, the Storm responded with a Hughes to Kirby 12-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion on a Kirby run.
In the second half, GRFC made some adjustments moving away from a three running back, one receiver set to a three receiver, one back set. And the change got the Buffaloes rolling. Dylan Bina led the offense with 70 yards rushing on the opening drive of the second half, but when the Buffaloes couldn’t come up with a score, their fighting spirit started to wane.
“We came out in the second half and marched down the field but when we didn’t score our momentum started to dip,” Williman said.
Both teams would remain scoreless in the third quarter and Salt Fork would lose Hughes as well.
At the end of the third, Kirby intercepted an Ethan Sliva pass and with it gained a huge momentum boost. The Storm would score shortly after on a 14 yard run by Cole Taylor and again on a 4 yard Fauver run.
With the win, Salt Fork has earned a playoff spot for the 13th consecutive year.
“People expect us to go the playoffs each year, but we have to really work at it each year. It’s become a tradition with 13 years in a row.” Kirby said.
“It’s definitely a relief and a huge accomplishment to get 6 wins in this conference.” Plotner said. “The teams in this conference are really, really good. You can’t rest but we know we’re in and will get to week 10 which is one of our big goals for the season.”
GRFC will see the return of coach Josh Cavanaugh but now faces a tough two weeks to try and get into the playoffs. Next week, they host the undefeated Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils followed by the Coal Bucket Game to finish off the regular season.
Vermilion Valley Conference All Times Central Conf Overall Team W L W L Bismarck-Henning 5 0 7 0 Salt Fork 4 1 6 1 Geo-RF/Chrisman 2 2 4 3 Westville 2 2 3 4 Oakwood/A-P 1 3 1 6 Milford/Cissna Park 1 3 3 3 Hoopeston Area 0 4 0 5 Friday, Oct. 11 games Bismarck-Henning 53, Hoopeston Area 13 Westville 25, Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac 14 Salt Fork 34, Georgetown-Ridge Farm 6 Saturday, Oct. 12 game Attica at Milford/Cissna Park, 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 games Bismarck-Henning at Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman, 7 p.m. Milford/Cissna Park at Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac, 7 p.m. Westville at Hoopeston Area, 7 p.m. Heyworth at Salt Fork, 7 p.m.