[Photos by Alex T. Paschal – email@example.com]
In the end, Genoa-Kingston gave Dixon a much tougher game than their blowout loss to the Dukes in Week 7, but the Cogs’ season came to an end Saturday with a 35-21 defeat in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“We really tried to shut down the run game,” said Cogs coach Chad Wilmarth. “We thought if we get them passing the ball, we at least can shut [Cox] down a little bit, but as you saw, they’ve got a lot of weapons, and they are a very well-coached team.”
The Cogs (8-3) attempted to slow the Dixon offense simply by keeping it off the field. It worked to some degree early, as Genoa-Kingston ran 20 of the game’s first 30 offensive plays, but several procedural penalties and two failed fourth-down conversions hindered the strategy greatly.
“We had an issue against Richmond-Burton, and I thought we addressed it,” Wilmarth said of the penalties. “[The officials] were saying the quarterback was starting his cadence before he got under [center]. If you’re going to have a man in motion, you’ve got to be under for one second before you take off, and that was the issue.”
Despite the problems, Payton Phillips was able to rack up 96 rushing yards, including two touchdowns, on 17 carries. Quarterback Griffin Hansen completed his first six passes and ended 6 of 8 for the game with 90 yards and one touchdown to Jayson Szczepanski.
But the Cogs were playing from behind virtually the entire game.
On Dixon’s first play from scrimmage, Tyler Christiansen caught a swing pass toward the left sideline from quarterback Noah Wilcox, got the edge and turned the corner, outrunning everybody for a 77-yard score only 20 seconds into the game.
“They’ve got a lot of talented guys, and you saw that today,” Wilmarth said. “Wilcox is a great quarterback, and obviously they have a great offensive line. We struggled to put pressure on [Wilcox]. We just couldn’t get to them.”
Cox scored two touchdowns and had 127 yards from scrimmage on the day, but Christiansen that hurt the Cogs the most Saturday. He was at it again early the second half, taking the Dukes’ second offensive play down the right sideline on another swing pass 47 yards for a score, putting Genoa-Kingston behind, 28-7.
“They were keying on Arthur, so they weren’t expecting us to spread it out,” Christiansen said. “Once I got outside, I just had to outrun them.”
With 89 rushing yards against the Cogs, Cox climbed to 20th on the state’s all-time rushing list (with 4,846), according to the records page on the IHSA website. His 73 touchdowns have him tied for 17th.
Dixon advances to the quarterfinals for the second time in team history. It will play Chicago Rabe next week with a berth in the semifinals on the line.