Rock and roll: Blue Devils invoke running clock with overwhelming effort at Rocky in WB6 opener


The Quincy High School football team takes the field to start an offensive possession during Friday night's game against Rock Island at Almquist Field in Rock Island, Ill. | Photo courtesy Bridgett Zanger

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A good high school football team is usually driven by a handful of standouts. When you have a bushel of stars, great things come.

Quincy High School is one of those kinds of teams.

It is hard to find a place where there is a hole on this Quincy team and it showed up in the opener of the Western Big 6 Conference with a 41-7 blowout of Rock Island on Friday night at Almquist Field.

Outside of a couple turnovers, the offense was amazing. Until the reserves came in during the final quarter, the passing and rushing allowed the Blue Devils to average more than 10 yards per play in their first 45 plays. On defense, the Blue Devils allowed the Rocks 180 yards outside of a 41-yard touchdown run well after the game was in the running clock.

“Yeah, our defense is really getting better and better,” said Quincy coach Rick Little, whose team is ranked ninth in the Class 7A state poll. “A lot of people see what the offense does, but the defense is also playing well. The big thing is they want to be better all the time.

“But yes, our offense is real good. What makes us good is we have guys everywhere who can make plays. One night it is one guy who does big things and the next night it is someone else. And don’t forget the guys up front have to do their jobs.”

The veteran coach is enjoying depth at the skill positions, starting with his son, starting quarterback Bradyn Little. The junior completed 23 of 29 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. The younger Little loves having so many talents around him.

“It’s a lot of fun with this group,” Bradyn Little said. “Everyone can play and everyone knows what they can do. We go into every game knowing we want to do whatever we have to do to win. We have great receivers, we have a great running back and we have a line that keeps me from getting hit.”

Added Rick Little, “You know Bradyn has worked and worked. He put the time in and things are coming together.”

How good are the Blue Devils? Three of the top 10 pass catchers in the WB6 are Quincy receivers and Caeden Johannessen wasn’t among them, but he had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown Friday night. Heading into the game at Rocky, it was Tykell Hammers with huge numbers with a ton of long plays. In this game, he took over as the guy making the short catches with four grabs for 32 yards, while Adon Byquist was the big gun with nine receptions for 177 yards and two TDs.

“We are very talented and all of us want the ball on every play,” Byquist said. “We know someone is going to have his day, but we also know we never know which one it will be.”

The Quincy High School football team warms up prior to its Western Big 6 Conference game Friday night against Rock Island at Almquist Field in Rock Island, Ill. | Photo courtesy Bridgett Zanger

But don’t think the Blue Devils are just about passing. Jeraius Rice ran for 132 yards and three touchdowns against the Rocks and is the leader in rushing in the WB6.

Still, the Blue Devils still believe they have a lot more to do.

“We’ve heard a lot about the attention about us in the preseason,” Rick Little said. “We know winning in the Big 6 is never easy, and we know that every team is good.”

Said Bradyn Little, “We still have a lot of work. We have played three very good games but that doesn’t mean we deserve that attention we heard about us. We are looking ahead for Moline. Sure, we think we can do some great things but we can’t get to where we want to be until we get there.”

The Blue Devils (3-0, 1-0 WB6) didn’t have the perfect start when Rice was heading to the end zone on their first possession and lost the ball. The Rocks recovered the ball at the 1-yard line. The defense turned that mistake into points by forcing a safety thanks to the linemen.

Shortly later, Quincy made it 8-0 after a Bradyn Little found a wide open Caeden Johannessen.

The Rocks (0-3, 0-1 WB6) thought they were making the game close when Garr Tarr ran 11 yards into the end zone but a late holding penalty call kept them out, and the Blue Devils got another TD with a 21-yard Rice run. Both teams threw interceptions deep in their opponent’s end before Byquist found himself all alone for a 57-yard TD pass late in the first half.

“I was actually a quarterback when I was a sophomore but then Bradyn came in and Coach Little went to me and told me I would help a lot as a receiver,” Bryquist said. “It actually helped me because I learned so much about seeing the field as a quarterback that it made me a good receiver.”

The Blue Devils blew the game away in the third quarter with touchdowns from a Byquist scoring pass from Little and a 23-yard Rice run in the first few minutes. Rice then added a 1-yard TD run to start the running clock.

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