ALMA CENTER — Hillsboro starting quarterback Grant Jefferies has some pretty big shoes to fill entering the 2013 season.
The senior signal caller replaces two-year starter and 2012 first-team all-conference selection Spencer Treu.
In 10 games last season Treu led the Tigers in rushing with 1,025 yards and a team-high 21 touchdowns on 127 carries. He also completed 19 of 43 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Friday night, Jefferies looked like the perfect replacement for Treu as the Tigers’ QB.
Jefferies rushed for a game-high 156 yards and five touchdowns in Hillsboro’s lop-sided 40–0 season-opening victory at Alma Center Lincoln.
Hillsboro never punted in the win, though the Tigers did lose two fumbles.
Coach Eric Auel’s club bounced back after losing a fumble on the first play from scrimmage and scored on its second drive when junior halfback Warren Paulson took an option pitch from Jefferies and raced 39 yards to pay dirt. Matt Stekel’s extra point made it 7–0.
“I thought we looked pretty sluggish to begin the game,” said Auel. “We didn’t have a great deal of emotion Friday night. The guys were sort of expecting to win this one easy and we played like that. We can’t take anything for granted against better opponents.”
Hillsboro’s third drive of the opening quarter was capped by a 35-yard option keeper by Jefferies.
Jefferies scored on a 3-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 20–0. The touchdown was set up by a 20-yard Jefferies pass to sophomore Max Stockwell.
Jefferies scored on runs of 31 and 28 yards in the third quarter, then scored on a 21-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We played well at times, but we were also pretty rusty in some areas,” added Auel. “We have to work on sustaining blocks up front and our pitch relationship with our quarterback and halfbacks, but other than that there was not a lot to be upset about.”
Paulson finished with 60 yards and a touchdown on five carries, while senior fullback Max Sebranek added 51 yards on 10 carries.
Hillsboro’s defense was dominant throughout and didn’t allow a first down until the second half.
The Tigers forced four turnovers and held Alma Center to just 56 total yards. Hillsboro recovered three fumbles, and Matt Bartels intercepted an errant pass early in the fourth quarter.
“We were pretty strong defensively, but they didn’t have much offensive firepower to challenge us,” said Auel.
The coach singled out the play of senior defensive tackles Matt Anderson and Christian Beyer.
“They got great penetration and caused problems in the backfield all night,” said Auel.
Hillsboro (1–0) will return to action Friday with a home opener against Kickapoo/La Farge (0–1). The Predators suffered a 35–6 season-opening loss to New Lisbon last Friday.