MASCOUTAH — Chase Hanson took the Mascoutah Indians for another ride Friday.
Hanson, a senior quarterback, rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Indians to a 34-10 victory over Triad in a Mississippi Valley Conference showdown at Mascoutah High.
Hanson scored on runs of 80, 26 yards and 2 yards, finishing with 19 carries for 159 yards as the Indians improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the MVC. They lead Triad (4-2, 2-1) by one game in the league standings with two games left to play.
"We've been looking forward to this game all season," Hanson said. "It was a rematch from last year's championship game. We knew they were going to have a little chip on their shoulder from the last time we played them. We started out a little rocky, but we got everything together and started rolling."
The teams have built perhaps the best football rivalry in the MVC, although many still consider Highland to be Triad's chief adversary. But there certainly was no love lost last April when the Knights and Mascoutah met twice in a season delayed by the pandemic.
Triad won the first meeting 6-0 in Troy, but the Indians rebounded in a major way in the rematch, romping past the Knights 40-0 in the MVC Bowl Series championship game in Mascoutah.
Former Indians coach Josh Lee resigned after the season to pursue a job outside of coaching and teaching, and Aaron Hilgendorf was hired after coaching five years at Watseka High and one year at Prairie Central High.
Hilgendorf couldn't be any happier to be in Mascoutah.
"It sounds fantastic," he said of being 6-0 with conference games remaining against Civic Memorial and Highland. "This is obviously something we didn't really think about. It's a credit to the coaching staff, the school, the community. Everybody's on the same page, and that's what I love about it right now.
"It's nice to be 6-0, but I firmly believe we're going to support each other, whatever our record is, from this point moving forward."
Senior Phoenix Mendiola added a 2-yard touchdown run for the Indians and junior Quincy Hall had a 42-yard interception return for another TD.
Triad took a 3-0 lead when senior Jake Ellis, also a soccer star, kicked a 25-yard field goal on the Knights' second possession of the game. After that, however, there was little that could be done to contain Mascoutah and its playmaking quarterback.
Mike Perry, who coached the Knights because of an illness that kept Paul Bassler at home, credited Hanson for getting the Indians' attack clicking with his 80-yard run down the left sidelines with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left in the second quarter.
"We had a breakdown on defense, and you can't have a breakdown against a team like that," said Perry, normally the Knights' defensive coordinator. "(Hanson) is a pretty dynamic player. If you give him a seam, he's going to be gone. Hats off to him. He made the play and pretty much did the same thing in the second half. He wore us down."
Hanson said the first touchdown lit a fire under the Indians.
"Coach trusted us that we would make the right blocks and I was going to hit the right hole," Hanson said. "I waited patiently for the hole to open up. I hit it hard and I just went."
Mascoutah never trailed again. Hanson's 26-yard scamper made it 14-3 early in the third quarter, and his 2-yard run up the middle grew the lead to 21-3 less than one minute into the fourth quarter.
Triad got a 33-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nic Funk to senior Juliano Cigliana to make it 21-10, but Mendiola scored to make it 27-10 before Hall's interception return for a score. Hall also had one other interception.
"Triad's an excellent program," Hilgendorf said. "They've been an excellent program for how many years now? We know that in order to win the conference and do things we want to do, they're a team we have to beat. They controlled the first half. We only ran 11 offensive snaps. Our defense held them down to a field goal, so we're happy with that.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way we responded in the second half. And actually the way we responded in the first half. We kept our composure and knew there was a full four quarters to play."
Hanson agrees that the Triad-Mascoutah rivalry is a healthy one with Highland adding some spice to the mix.
"It's definitely us, Triad and Highland," Hanson said. "They always have looked at us as the little brother. Now we're the big brother. We've made a name for ourselves at both those schools. They're going to be looking up at us from now on."