ORION, Ill. — Orion's football program prides itself on tradition.
The Chargers have made the playoffs in eight of their first 10 seasons under head coach Chip Filler, but there were certainly some question marks surrounding this year's team.
That's what happens after the graduation of a dynamic senior class that included an all-state running back, a play-making quarterback and a tight end/defensive end now at the University of Iowa.
But tradition can help programs overcome those losses, and Orion showed it's still a team to be reckoned with as last year's Class 2A quarterfinalist went on the road and beat Monmouth-Roseville — a 3A quarterfinalist last season — 20-18.
"Obviously it's just one game," Filler said. "One thing it does prove for us is just the tradition of our program. Our guys know how to win. When it came down to scoring last in their hostile end zone and then having to run a four-minute drill to keep the ball away from them, our kids know what to do in that situation. I was really proud of that."
Even with the loss of players like Seth West, Dawson Schulenberg and Logan Lee, the Chargers still began the season ranked eighth in the 2A Associated Press rankings. But the team knew there were some questions surrounding how it would perform this year, and that lit a fire the players carried into last weekend.
"We proved that it doesn't matter how many seniors we lose from the year past, we can still come out and do our job the best that we can," junior running back-wide receiver Coby Schultz said. "There was a huge chip on all of our shoulders. There were so many people saying, 'You're not as good as last year, you're going to come out, probably lose.' That's what drove us to practice hard, come out, play our game and prove to people we're not that bad."
Schultz had 127 total yards in the win, including 90 receiving yards, catching all three scores from new quarterback Ryan Jungwirth. Though Schultz had the big game, the Chargers feel they have enough pieces to keep teams off-balance moving forward in players like Kobe Lieving, Braydi Mascari and others.
"We want to get a few more people involved, but it just so happened that the game plan, the way they were playing their defense, a lot went through Coby that week," Filler said. "We have several weapons, and we're going to do a better job of getting a lot more people involved."
Now, the Chargers have to try and keep that edge. They still plan on having a big role in the Three Rivers Conference race and playoff picture as they move up to seventh in the latest rankings and host Kewanee this week.
"I always think we deserve everyone's best shot no matter who we put on the field. You should be coming after us," Filler said. "We're going to try and keep these guys as humble as we can. It was still Week 1 and a lot can happen. We're still a far cry from our goal."
History repeats itself: Orion wasn't the only Illinois team to answer a big question last week.
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Rockridge was tasked with replacing dynamic quarterback Riley Fetterer but may have found an answer in sophomore Brayden Deem.
Deem relieved starter Wyatt Rudsell in the second quarter. The Rockets trailed by 24 points in the first half but Deem brought them back, completing 17 of 26 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Cole Rusk in the final two minutes to beat Sherrard.
Deem also added 57 yards and two scores on the ground.
It's become something of a tradition for sophomore quarterbacks to lead the Rockets back from a big deficit in their first game. Fetterer's career started as a sophomore when he entered mid-game and led Rockridge back from a 20-0 deficit to beat Bureau Valley.
The year prior, Michael Griffin took over mid-game as quarterback, again as a sophomore, leading the Rockets to a comeback win over Bureau Valley.
Plenty at stake: The rivalry between Central DeWitt and Maquoketa gets another chapter this week.
According to Central DeWitt athletic director Kurt Kreiter, the two teams have played nearly every year since 1919, with Central DeWitt owning a 50-39-6 all-time series advantage.
Though both programs have had their fair share of struggles the past few seasons, this year's meeting has plenty of significance.
When the Cardinals host the Sabers Friday at Goodenow Field, it will be the first time both teams have started the season 1-0 since 2009. Central DeWitt beat Center Point-Urbana 20-10 while Maquoketa beat Anamosa 42-21.
Whichever team wins will have more than just bragging rights, potentially embarking on a strong season. Central DeWitt hasn't started 2-0 since 2014, while the last time Maquoketa enjoyed wins in its first two weeks was 2012.
Two-way force: Tipton's Payten Elijah had a productive night on both sides of the ball in the Tigers' 34-0 win over North Cedar.
The junior had six carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns but really made his mark defensively with three interceptions, complemented by 4.5 tackles, helping Tipton post its first shutout in 34 games.