Heading into the second half it looked like a classic showdown between city rivals was taking shape. Then, one of the star senior quarterbacks went down and the classic showdown quickly disappeared right along with the sun over the bleachers.
Coaches barely had time to get their starters ready for this unusual season, let alone give meaningful reps to the backups. And the lack of preparation and experience – no fault of anyone’s just another reality in 2020 – was going to be too much for the Pioneer football team to overcome.
On the other side of the field, Skyline showed they have some big-time playmakers – like Jordan Wilson, for example – along with some solid lineman up front and the ability to play some really good football. A team that only won one game last season is already in the win column in week one and there are a lot more where that comes from.
Two huge plays in the game – that happened only minutes apart – changed everything on Friday night in the season opener for city rivals Pioneer and Skyline. First, Pioneer’s senior quarterback Conor Easthope went down with a game-ending injury. A few plays later, Wilson intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 16-7 lead.
The Eagles never looked back and landed safely in the win column with a 23-7 win over the Pioneers. The Eagles finished with five picks on the night – two apiece from Wilson and Tommy Fry and one from Will Eliason. Yes, they have some playmakers.
Down 9-7, the Pioneers got the ball to start the second half and started moving down field – a personal foul call on Skyline helped. But Easthope was tackled and hurt his foot forcing him to leave the game for the rest of the night.
But give credit to the Eagles big D. Pioneer’s only first-half points came off a blocked punt as Skyline’s defense did a great job keeping the talented visitors offense in check.
A few plays after Easthope left the game, Wilson made a great individual play. The senior defensive back read the play, stepped in front of the receiver and had nothing but 70 yards of green turf between himself and the goal line. A few of Wilson’s teammates escorted him into the end zone and Colin Brueger hit the extra point to give Skyline a 16-7 lead with 7:06 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Eliason picked off a Pioneer pass in the middle of the field and later in the quarter, Fry had his second interception of the game.
Skyline turned Fry’s interception into points when senior QB Addison Tyler-Coquillard threw a 31-yard TD pass to Wilson in the end zone. Wilson simply out jumped a Pioneer defender and came down with the ball for six points. Brueger hit the extra point to give the hosts a commanding 23-7 lead with 3:15 left in the game.
The Eagles opened the scoring on a TD pass from Tyler-Coquillard to Eliason to make it 6-0 with 7:45 left in the first quarter.
The first quarter ended with Skyline ahead 6-0.
Brueger gave the Eagles a 9-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal with 6:15 left in the second quarter.
Pioneer got on the scoreboard when Aidan Griswold blocked a Skyline punt, scooped the ball up, fought off a tackle and made his way into the end zone. The extra point from Miles Gutmann cut the Skyline lead to 9-7 with 2:43 left until halftime.
Skyline led 9-7 at halftime.
The Eagles look to double their win total from last year when they host Bedford on Friday night. The Kicking Mules booted their record to 2-0 on the season following a 33-10 win over Ypsilanti.
The Pioneers face another city rival on Friday when they host Huron. The River Rats lost their season opener 43-19 to Saline.