By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Luke Frieden listened.
All week during practice, Quincy Notre Dame football coach Bill Connell told his players to be ready for Pittsfield to try to torch them with screen passes Friday night.
When Pittsfield tried the screen in the first quarter, Frieden was there to swallow up the play. It marked one of several good plays by Frieden.
The QND junior linebacker had 10 tackles during the Raiders' 49-7 West Central Conference home victory. Only senior linebacker Logan Schutte had more with 14.
"We thought their best plays from scrimmage were screens," Connell said. "The first screen they ran, Luke Frieden blew it up. I don't know if they ran another screen the whole night."
Frieden also had a 33-yard run on a fake punt and added a fourth-quarter touchdown run.
"I really thought he came alive," said Connell, whose team improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the WCC. "He was coming off of a knee injury last year, and he continues to get better each and every week. That was by far his best outing of the year."
Frieden has 36 tackles for the season, and his production will remain key with junior linebacker Logan Arens out for the season with a knee injury.
Defensive woes: After the Hannibal football team lost its season opener 17-6 to Quincy Notre Dame, Pirates football coach Mark St. Clair walked away pleased with his defense and thinking his offense had to improve.
Since then, the script has been flipped.
Never was that more evident than during Hannibal's 56-36 North Central Missouri Conference loss to Moberly on Friday night at Moberly, Mo.
Moberly, ranked No. 5 in Class 4, scored touchdowns on eight of 13 possessions. The Spartans' 56 points marked the most Hannibal allowed since Oct. 10, 2003, when Columbia Rock Bridge trounced the Pirates 63-14.
Three Spartans had at least 120 yards rushing, as Moberly piled up 386 yards on the ground.
"It doesn't matter what you do (in other areas of the game) if you're not going to stop the run," said St. Clair, whose team is 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the NCMC. "(Historically) we've been good stopping the run, but we couldn't stop the run. It was that simple.
"That's twice we've had teams knife through us this year. Mexico did it to us (rushing for 269 yards in Week 4), and they did it to us. It's going to be a rough rest of the season if we don't plum up to stop the run."
Hannibal's defense better improve in a hurry, with a Week 9 contest against Jefferson City Helias (5-2) looming. The Crusaders are ranked No. 4 in Class 4. Hannibal is averaging 33.4 points per game this season and allowing 25.6 per game. Three other teams in the seven-team NCMC have points per game allowed averages as good as or better than Hannibal's.
"Our offense was pretty solid (Friday), but the defense let up a lot," Hannibal senior linebacker/lineman Brett Wessel said. "We have nothing to lose now. We have to buck up and be men."
Wilson injures back: Hannibal endured a scary situation early in the first quarter when senior lineman Jordan Wilson remained on the ground for about 15 minutes after a play. He was put on a stretcher and taken off in an ambulance. St. Clair said he thinks Wilson sustained a back strain. St. Clair added that Wilson was doing well and his movement wasn't impacted.
"He landed in an awkward position, but he'll be fine," St. Clair said.
Owning the red zone: Quincy High School's defense has had very much of a bend-but-don't-break persona the past two weeks.
Twice in Friday's 35-5 Western Big Six Conference win over Moline, the Blue Devils recovered fumbles inside their own 10-yard line and returned them for TDs. That came after the Blue Devils forced two turnovers inside the red zone in last week's 37-14 win over Peoria Central.
"It's frustrating from the standpoint of, they get down there, but the fact that we have guys who really rise to the occasion and make plays is a great thing," QHS coach Rick Little said. "On one hand, I'm frustrated. On the other hand, I'm excited our guys have that bend-but-don't-break mentality."
QHS (5-2, 2-2) is plus-seven in the turnover department this season and has won the turnover battle in all but one game. It was minus-three in turnovers in its 26-7 loss to Rock Island Alleman in Week 5.
Around the WB6: Keenan Shorter rushed for 167 yards on just seven carries to lead Rock Island to a 56-20 over Galesburg. Rock Island (7-0, 4-0) would clinch the outright WB6 crown with a win over Moline next week. Ben Holloway had 168 yards on 27 carries for Galesburg (3-4, 2-2). ... Stephen Thomer rushed for 104 yards on seven carries to propel Rock Island Alleman past Peoria Manual 41-0. Alleman (5-2, 3-1) led 34-0 at halftime. ... Trevor May's 25-yard fourth-quarter TD reception from Dominique Parks prevented a shutout as United Township lost 48-7 to Peoria Notre Dame and dropped to 1-6.