Jeep boys move on to semis

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Senior Bryce Merkel (10) plays a ball in the first half for Northeast Dubois on Monday. Merkel had a penalty kick goal in the second half to lift the Jeeps, 4-0, past South Spencer in Sectional 48 at Cedar Crest.


BRETZVILLE - Northeast Dubois was supposed to play South Spencer at 8 p.m. for the second game of Monday's Sectional 48 premiere.
That didn't quite happen due to North Posey and Evansville Day being tied after regulation, and having to be decided by penalty kicks - with the Vikings coming out on top. However, the Class 1A-No. 19 Jeeps (10-4) wasted no time taking care of business when junior Noah Betz scored his first of two goals just 55 seconds into the game. Betz's first goal was technically all that was needed, but Northeast Dubois came away with the 4-0 win.

For Jeeps coach Clive Williams, the wait was worth it.

"I think it made the guys more, should we say, ready to play because of that anticipation and so on in terms of being able to play," Williams said.

Northeast Dubois couldn't add on to its lead in the first half, but the Jeeps still tried to do so. The team controlled the ball for much of the way, getting off some corner kicks and also some further shots on goal. Seniors Eli Freyberger and Bryce Merkel tried to join Betz in the scoring column, but neither was successful. It remained a 1-0 game at halftime.

However, it didn't remain 1-0 the entire way through. Junior Mario Adiego Navarro made it a 2-0 Jeeps lead with 32:30 to go, but they still weren't done. Merkel got on the board on a penalty kick goal past Rebels junior keeper Taylor Harmon with 21:39 remaining, and Betz capped it off with his second goal towards the very end of the game to bring it to the final score.

"Noah's been showing up all season, and he really wants this," Williams said. "He really wants this, and every time I take him out to give him a break, he says, 'Coach, I'm ready, I'm ready.'"

Williams noted how the Jeeps had 40 opportunities, but he's hoping they'll have the same number of opportunities on Wednesday and score even more against North Posey. He credited Harmon for being a good goalie, but he wants Northeast Dubois to complete its chances.

South Spencer didn't make much of a push towards senior keeper Landon Gutgsell in the opening half, save for a kick that rolled to the left of the net, but Gutgsell got a stop on goal early in the second half.

Williams talked about the team's 12-3 loss Sept. 28 at Class 2A-No. 7 Heritage Hills, and how Northeast Dubois is trying to prevent a repeat of its loss to the Patriots.

"They realize that that's not going to happen again from their perspective," he said. "And so, that's what they try to make sure that that score stayed zero. That's their goal."

The Jeeps lost to defending champion Forest Park in last year's semifinals. The Class 1A-No. 8 Rangers are set to play Wood Memorial on their home field Tuesday, and with the country rivals being on the opposite ends of the bracket, the possibility still remains of an All-Dubois County sectional championship game on Saturday.

But Wiliams knows what's key to getting past the Vikings and into the championships.

"Play like we did tonight, create opportunities like we did tonight," Williams said. "As long as we do that, I know we'll score."

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