The Moline football team wasted no time putting the offseason noise from the outside behind it in Friday's football season opener against Alton at Browning Field, which featured a pair of 2018 playoff teams both receiving votes in the Class 7A AP preseason poll.
Moline senior quarterback Zidain Sterling threw touchdown strikes on the Maroons' first two plays of the season, helping his team take early control against Alton. Moline went on to win 36-14 as neither team scored in the middle quarters.
After Alton shanked a punt to end its first drive, Sterling unleashed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Nate Johnson. Caroline Hazen lined up for her first PAT attempt, but it was holder Jacob Pauwels who rolled out and took a two-point plunge after he didn't get the ball cleanly.
After Alton fumbled on its second drive, Sterling found Pauwels for a 27-yard touchdown. Hazen kicked the extra point, eventually finishing 4-for-4 on PATs.
Moline led 22-7 after one quarter.
From that point forward, Moline relied heavily upon its running game. Senior Aboubacar Barry (26 carries, 178 yards) finished with three touchdowns, his longest coming on a 44-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter.
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He and Kaeden Dreifurst formed a punishing one-two combination as the junior totaled 212 yards on 20 carries.
Sterling had trouble finding his rhythm after the early scores and finished 2-for-7 with 74 yards passing.
Defensively, Moline recovered a pair of fumbles and Treyvon Lee had an interception. Moline also forced Alton into a number of challenging fourth downs.
Speedy Alton QB Andrew Jones was 12-for-32 for 262 yards passing and one touchdown, a 20-yard catch on fourth down to Xavier McNear in the fourth quarter. Bobby Smith's 3-yard rushing score in the first quarter provided Alton its only other touchdown. Xavier Morgan caught three passes for 104 yards.
Up next for Moline is Benet Academy, which handed the Maroons their only regular-season loss a year ago in Week 2, 28-14.