Two touchdowns a game. That’s approximately what the Yorkville defense has yielded to this point in the season while amassing a 3-1 record.
Karl Hoinkes is now in his third season as coach of the Foxes, and likes to run out of the I-formation again this year.
That is what is certain as Morris opens Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference play Friday night in Yorkville.
“It’s still the same Karl Hoinkes-type of offense, but they do kind of open it up a little bit this year,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “They’ll run a little pistol, but it’s still the same I. They’ll have a back behind the quarterback and a fullback there, and they run similar plays that you would see in I, only with the pistol look.
“They will run a little single-back as well, but you’re going to see the I out of them with a full-house backfield in short-yardage. They do open it up a little more as opposed to different Yorkville teams we’ve seen in the past. They will throw the ball a little more than they have in the past so our defense is going to have to be ready for both the run and the pass.”
How much the Foxes mix it up likely will be determined by the extent of injuries to their key players.
“As far as I know, their starting quarterback last week was out and they started a sophomore and I don’t know if he’ll be back or not,” Thorson said. “We’re going to prepare for the both of them. I know their starting running back went down in the third quarter and I don’t know if he’s going to be back. I never heard how serious it was. They are young, and while they obviously didn’t look very good against [La Salle-Peru], they do some good things. They definitely run the ball good. [Mike] Kurtz is a tough runner. He really likes to get outside and has good speed, so that is going to be a concern for us.”
The starting quarterback for Yorkville was Nathan Scott before he broke his hand against Dixon. His backup is sophomore Cameron VanBoekel.
Kurtz is the leading rusher for the Foxes, having accumulated 410 yards on the ground heading into last-week’s game. That includes a 185-yard rushing game against Dixon and a 130-yard game against East Aurora.
“Whenever they run out of the I, it pretty much resembles our I-offense,” Morris senior defensive back Kyle Hill said. “That’s what it looks like. It’s a lot of leads and dives. That’s pretty much what they run out of I. They run basically one pass play out of it. Their I is pretty vanilla, though sometimes they run out of pistol. But that’s pretty much I out of shotgun.”
So do they pass more than they used to?
“Yeah, just a little bit,” Hill said. “Their main wide receiver is No. 2 [Tynan Leachman] and he looks pretty tall [6-foot-2, 175 pounds], but I think if our [defensive backs] do what they are capable of then we should be able to shut them down.”
As usual, the Morris offense will be looking to show more balance this week than it has at this point in the season.
“Defensively, they like to run a 3-5 and have some good athletes up front,” Thorson said. “It’s going to be another challenge for our line.
“They are going to have to really step up and stay on their blocks and work on getting up to the linebackers when we run the ball.”
Yorkville’s leading tackler this year is Ben Badalamenti.
“I think we’re going to try and put the ball up a little more, but I’m not sure. It would be nice to even out our game a little more,” Hill said. “We should be more balanced, both running and passing wise. But I’m not really sure what coach Thorson has up his sleeve.”
At this point in time, Morris has had long road trips to both Metamora and Geneseo, so the trip 20 miles up Illinois 47 should feel like a quick trip to the store.
“It’s going to be nice to have a shorter bus ride. ... It’ll be a nice little trip to Yorkville,” Hill said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.