By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Malik Bondon watched the Galesburg football team's offensive guards all night Friday.
Wherever the guards went, Bondon followed.
And Bondon, QHS's senior middle linebacker, was typically there to keep the ball carrier from going very far.
Bondon had a season-high 19 total tackles, including 12 solo tackles, to lead the Blue Devils to a 14-12 Western Big Six Conference victory Friday night at Flinn Stadium.
"I'm kind of amazed myself," Bondon said when told about his tackle total. "They pulled the guards on every play, so the guards tell you where the play is going. I followed the guards, got back there and tried to be untouched on every play. It worked out."
Bondon, a highly touted transfer from Sun Prairie (Wis.) High School, has become more and more of a dominant force as the season progresses.
"You almost want to play harder for him, because you know what he's capable of doing, and you want to pick up your end of the deal, too," QHS senior defensive/offensive lineman Quentin Lefever said.
QHS uses trickery: The Blue Devils nearly scored on the final play of the first half with a hook 'n ladder play.
Quarterback George Crickard IV hit Bryce Unmisig on a 6-yard quick-hitter. Unmisig then lateraled to Jordan Osborne, who was racing up the sideline.
Osborne scampered for 25 more yards before getting pushed out of bounds around the 15-yard line.
"Every week we work on it, and this was a good opportunity to run it," QHS coach Rick Little said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the score."
Changing the look: Hannibal has deviated from its traditional split backs/veer offense for most of this season. Instead, the Pirates are lining up in the I-formation about 60 percent of the time.
The Pirates beat Marshall 42-6 on Friday behind senior tailback Mitch Nichols' 221 rushing yards on 30 carries. Although Hannibal (6-2) still sometimes lines up in split backs, the veer option has basically been dropped.
Pirates coach Mark St. Clair said the I-formation better utilizes the strengths of Nichols and junior quarterback Austin Kirby.
Going into the season, Kirby was slated to be the backup quarterback, with senior Lijah Harrison to be the starter. But injuries limited Harrison to only about four quarters of play. He's out for the year with a knee injury.
"After losing Lijah, I figured we needed to do a little bit more power (running) and play action and get Mitchell back in the I and give him a little bit more room to work," St. Clair. "It gives him time to read, because he's very good at reading and finding the gaps."
Nichols has 1,159 rushing yards this season. That tops the area among teams that have reported season stats. The last time Hannibal had a 1,500-yard rusher was 2001, when Wentric Williams rushed for 1,881.
Wyatt King is the fullback in Hannibal's I-formation.
"It's turned him into a little bit more of a blocking back, but it's also allowed him to get some big runs on traps," St. Clair said.
Walk down memory lane: QND coach Bill Connell was happy he could be on hand as the Hamilton, Ill., football field was named Jim Repplinger Athletic Field on Friday.
Repplinger coached Hamilton from 1971-1998, compiling a 170-104 record and guiding his teams to 12 playoff appearances.
Connell, who is in his 22nd season at QND, said he enjoyed getting to know Repplinger when Connell was early in his tenure at QND and Repplinger was winding down his coaching days.
"To be able to take part in that and give him a hug and wish him well meant a lot to me. We sat and joked for a minute," said Connell, whose team beat West Hancock 54-6. "Between his 27 years and my 22 years, that's 49 years of coaching. You don't see that in today's time."
On to the next goal: Now that the Raiders have secured the West Central Conference championship in their first year in the league, Connell said the focus shifts toward the playoffs.
QND (7-1, 5-0 WCC) will cap its regular season Friday against Monmouth-Roseville in Monmouth, Ill. Should QND lose, Connell said the Raiders' chances of hosting first-round playoff game is probably 50/50.
"Being 8-1 gives you a 99 percent chance of hosting," Connell said.
Around the WB6: Rock Island completed its perfect run through the conference with a 47-21 road victory over Moline. Brandon Richardson had 139 yards rushing and three TDs for Rocky (8-0, 5-0 WB6) and added a receiving touchdown. Moline (1-7, 1-4) scored all three of its TDs in the second half. … Rock Island Alleman's Matt Hubbell scored on a 3-yard run with 3:09 remaining to lift his team to a 23-19 home win over Peoria Richwoods. Kevin O'Keeffe passed for 210 yards and two TDs for Alleman (6-2, 3-1). … Peoria Central beat United Township 69-28 on Saturday. United Township (1-7) trailed 41-6 at halftime.