The Hillcrest Hornets football team let it be known Friday night that it has been living by a secret motto all summer. “No DGB, no problem,” it goes.
In the Hornets’ first game in four years without him, they proved it.
Senior quarterback Jonah Hill led a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives, scoring the go-ahead TD himself with only 2:26 remaining, as the well-balanced Hornets rallied for an 18-12 victory against Camdenton at Shumate Stadium.
Hill accounted for 211 total yards, including 162 after halftime, when the play of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound bruiser looked ready to become the face of the program.
That title long belonged to Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 1-rated recruit last year when he established a new high school career receiving record and then signed with the University of Missouri.
Hillcrest coach John Beckham revealed the motto after the game.
“Hopefully that will change people’s feelings about Hillcrest football,” said a fired-up Hill, who was 10 of 13 passing for 113 yards and got picked off once. “It’s nothing against Dorial whatsoever. It’s just the fact that we have so many people that look down on us as a team with one player gone.
“Last year’s team wasn’t just one player. We had all kinds of players.”
Camdenton, which reached the Class 5 quarterfinals last season, threatened to ruin Hillcrest’s first night on its new artificial turf, part of a $3.5 million upgrade of four Springfield city fields.
The Lakers took control after Hill led a 73-yard scoring drive on the opening series. They forged a 6-all tie when receiver Ryan Elliott took a curl-and-stop route on fourth down into a 26-yard TD.
Camdenton opened the second half with a 75-yard TD drive. Murphy Ward finished it with a 1-yard run. He rushed for 113 of the Lakers’ 205 yards and handled 24 of their 44 carries.
But the game changed early in the fourth quarter when Hillcrest’s defense stopped the Lakers inside the 15, as two pass plays fell incomplete.
The Hornets then traveled 85 yards in 10 plays, the drive ending when Juwan Johnson took Hill’s handoff around end and scored a 16-yard TD. It came one play after Hill’s 17-yard run and a 32-yard catch-and-run — mostly run — by receiver Matt Rush.
Hillcrest forced a punt, and turned to Hill, who scored on a 9-yard run — just six plays after a holding penalty wiped out Rush’s 20-yard TD run.
“This is a big win for us as a program,” Beckham said. “First off, Camdenton is a great program. But people discounted us.”
Camdenton was without junior quarterback Kullen Carlock (shoulder injury) and also was flagged for 52 yards in penalties.
Said Camdenton coach Jeff Shore, “I felt like we had several chances where we maybe could have put ourselves in a really good spot and couldn’t get it done. To their credit, they stiffened up when they needed to on defense. They got it rolling with Hill. He was a load.”