Brandon Hampton has had to overcome a lot of obstacles in six years as head coach of the Eldorado High School football team.
Some came quicker than others, but one hurdle continued to trip up the former player at his alma-mater
Until Friday night.
Hampton got a monkey off his back as Eldorado used a fierce rushing attack to dispose of Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn 40-0.
In his time on the sidelines, Hampton has never beaten the Red Devils and for a team that knocked his Eagles out of the postseason a year ago, striking some revenge Week 1 of the prep football season.
"Winning week one is huge and if any coach tells you its not, they're lying," Hampton said. "Winning week one is important and this week it was us and Sesser and that was the most important game, because it was the next one on the schedule. it's been well documented that we haven't had any success against Sesser. I was real proud of our team on how we came out early and played well."
Eldorado took the opening kickoff and quickly went to work, using the talented trio of Dylan Roberts, Derek Mitchell and Tyler Deaton.
Mitchell got the Eagles on the board early with a beast-mode 11-yard run with 6:04 left to play in the first quarter, followed by a Deaton point after attempt to take a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eldorado opted for the squib kick, which worked to perfection, allowing Roberts to find pay dirt from two yards out a mere two minutes later, giving them a two touchdown lead.
"We got the look we were wanting and we executed it well," Hampton said of the kickoff. "We really got them behind the eight ball there."
Things just didn't go the Red Devils' way in the early going as S-V-W-W fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, giving the ball back to Eldorado as Roberts knocked down the door to the end zone, this time from 10 yards out as the Eagles shot out of the gate with a 21-0 lead.
Roberts led a stout offensive attack for Hampton and the Eagles as the senior finished with 160 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns.
Hampton is sure that Roberts' rushing performance was an eye-opener, but he was more impressed with what he senior was able to do defensively.
"He played well defensively and that's what a lot of people don't notice," Hampton said. "I was real proud of him more so defensively, rushing the passer. Dylan runs hard, he runs reckless and he has for three years now. We have a nice little offensive attack with a couple of running backs."
Page 2 of 2 - Following a Mitchell 12-yard TD run with 7:47 left in the first half, the Eagles took a 28-0 lead into the lockerroom and went to work defensively in the second half to preserve the shut out.
On the night, S-V-W-W had eight fumbles, four of which were recovered by the Eagles. It was a solid effort by the defensive line that Hampton said laid the way for the victory.
"We had to make sure we kept the quarterback (Nick Marlo) in the pocket and we were able to do that with Roberts, Justin Wiseman and Caleb Williams. We just didn't let him get out there and get going. We took the ball away. Some were forced, some were unforced, but they are still takeaways. We're playing with a bunch of seniors. I've already told them, 'anything less than being one of the top defenses in southern Illinois is unacceptable.'"
Roberts added a 34-yard run down the right sideline in the fourth quarter, while Jayden Emmons closed out the affair with a touchdown run from 16 yards out.
The Red Devil defense gave up394 yards rushing to Eldorado, while S-V-W-W came away with just 82 yards on offense, 52 of which came on the ground.
Win or lose, Hampton always implements the 24-hour rule, nothing that while this was an important game on the schedule, it was so because it was the first game.
"We'll enjoy it for 24 hours and then turn the page and get ready for Week 2 against Carmi," he said.
With a heavy heart, Hampton took time to talk to his kids about the week that was , which included the passing of longtime EHS superintendent Gary Siebert, who passed away Tuesday.
"It was a difficult week for everyone at Eldorado, including the community as a whole. What a great legend he was. He's done so much for this program, including hiring me. It thrills me that we can go home and give his family the game ball."
Eldorado (1-0) will play host to Carmi-White County (1-0), who knocked off Elverado-Trico 55-0 Friday night at Boz Adams Field.