By Keith Shelton
ESCANABA - If the Escanaba Eskymos suddenly develop a seemingly irrational fear of the number 25, don't be alarmed. There is a perfectly good explanation. It is the number worn by Cedar Grove-Belgium running back Alex Giles, and he was as good as advertised Saturday afternoon.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Escanaba Eskymos quarterback Dave Falish attempts to avoid a tackle by Logan Peterson of Cedar Grove-Belgium during the first half Saturday at Escanaba. The Rockets won 49-10.
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Escanaba running back Travis Heller looks up-field for room in the third quarter, as Cedar Grove-Belgium defender Adam Chier closes in, Saturday, at Escanaba.
Giles and the CG-B Rockets ran all over the Eskymos en route to a 49-10 dismantling at Escanaba Athletic Field.
Giles, at times, looked as if he was swimming through a sea of Eskymos. The 5-foot-9, 181 pound back broke tackles and ate clock. Though not a home run hitter, Giles was extraordinarily effective, getting good chunks of yardage on nearly every one of his 32 carries.
"Alex is a special kid. He's a very hard worker, and more importantly, he's a good kid. He does the right thing and plays a team game," said Rockets coach Chris Zablocki. "There's a reason why he's all-state in the the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin coaches association, and you can see that in his perseverance and what he does in life.
Score by quarters
CG-Belgium 13 14 14 8 - 49
Escanaba 7 3 0 0 - 10
E - Dave Falish, 35-yard run, Myrick kick, 10:58
CG-B - Alex Giles, 2-yard run, Segahl kick, 3:25
CG-B - Drew Emperley, 1-yard run, kick failed, 1:34
CG-B - Giles, 16-yard run, Segahl kick, 7:34
E - TJ Myrick, 33-yard field goal
CG-B - Justin Obbink, 16-yard reception from Emperley, Segahl kick, 0:50
CG-B - Giles, 14-yard run, Segahl kick, 8:52
CG-B - Giles, 15-yard run, Segahl kick, 2:27
CG-B - Aaron Chier, 84-yard run, 2pt pass good, 3:42
Cedar Grove-Belgium, 344 yards (Giles, 32-213); (Chier, 9-95); (Wenzel, 4-36)
Escanaba, 147 yards (Falish, 16-54); (Walker 4-70); Heller (7-16)
Cedar Grove-Belgium, (Emperley, 3-5-0-31)
Escanaba, (Falish, 3-12-2-67)
"There's a lot of kids that are 5-foot-8, 190 pounds. He has to set himself apart. He keeps working hard and today he showed what kind of an athlete he is."
Giles' running style was so efficient because it enabled the Rockets to sustain multiple long drives, eating big chunks of time off the clock and limiting the Eskymos opportunities on offense.
"Your best defense is your offense on the field, and that's what we do," said Zablocki. "It's a U.P. style of football, we're just down in Wisconsin."
Giles contributed 213 of Cedar Grove's 344 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns.
"I love getting the ball and being able to run hard, but without my line I wouldn't be able to do the things I do and our offense just wouldn't run," said Giles, who holds an offer to FCS school Holy Cross University. "I give all the credit to my line and I'm just going to keep running hard for them and for my teammates and try to pull out a W every week."
Giles was particularly effective on fourth down, converting plenty of them to extend drives.
"We didn't have many opportunities. We probably had a half-dozen times when they were in a fourth down situation and we couldn't get off the field and they were able to sustain a long drive," said Escanaba coach Jim Hansen.
The Eskymos were able to score on their opening possession and looked good doing it. Quarterback Dave Falish hit Ben Kleiman for a 41-yard reception down to the Rockets 24-yard line on the opening play of the game. Two plays later after a holding penalty, Falish ran around the entire defense 35 yards to the endzone and Escanaba led 7-0.
But that momentum was soon lost as Cedar Grove embarked on a seven minute, 33 second long drive. The Rockets (1-2) converted two fourth downs and culminated the drive when Giles punched it in from two yards out. Though it was a tie game at 7-7 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the ball was firmly in Cedar Grove's court.
Falish was relentlessly pressured, sacked and picked off on the Eskymos next possession. The Rockets offense resumed on the Eskymos 11-yard line and quarterback Drew Emperley had no problem sneaking in the endzone from the 1-yard line.
Escanaba's only other scoring drive finished in a 33-yard field goal from TJ Myrick. The Rockets seemingly hurt themselves on their next possession as they took two consecutive holding penalties, giving them a seemingly insurmountable third-and-35 from the Eskymos 39-yard line. Giles made it a slightly more manageable fourth-and-10 however and Emperley hit a wide open Justin Obbink in the endzone. That might have been the killing blow for the Eskymos as the score came less than a minute before halftime and put the Rockets up 27-10.
"We talk to the kids all the time about the way you're supposed to play regardless of the situation and regardless of the scoreboard," Hansen said. "We just have to do a better job of that."
Even late in the fourth quarter when the Eskymos had seen the last of Giles for the day, there was Aaron Chier making the defense look silly on an 86-yard touchdown run in the final minutes. Chier ran to the sideline, deep in Rockets territory, then suddenly stopped. As a trio of Eskymos ran out of bounds, Chier took off untouched all the way to paydirt.
"We're just looking for more fundamental football," said Hansen. "we need better tackling, better blocking and defeating blocks. The kids are giving great effort, we just have some things to work on."
Escanaba (1-2) travels to Marquette (3-0) Friday.