DeKalb Montoya

DeKalb’s Logan Shultz Montoya, left, and Nate Williams, below, bring down Leo’s Max Loeffler during Friday’s game.

LEO-CEDARVILLE — DeKalb tried to get in Leo’s way as the Lions went for an unbeaten run through the conference.

The Barons had some small successes, but didn’t faze the Lions, who rolled to a 38-0 victory Friday to take the Northeast 8 Conference football championship outright.

Leo (8-1 overall, 7-0 NE8) scored on the third play of the game on a 46-yard burst up the middle by sophomore Max Loeffler. Junior Kaeden Miller ran for two scores, and the Lions’ defense recorded its fifth shutout of the season.

The Lions fell short of their season statistical averages largely because they kept the field tilted against DeKalb. Leo started in Baron territory three times and began only one possession inside its own 35.

Leo also scored on its second possession, converting two fourth downs on a 45-yard, 12-play march, capped by Miller’s first touchdown.

Unable to penetrate Leo’s front, the Barons (1-5, 1-4) turned to short passes to the flat, with sophomore Tegan Irk making completions to six different receivers in the game. DeKalb put together a 14-play drive, but after Irk was sacked on third and six, it gave up the ball on downs on an incomplete pass.

The Lions had the answer, showing that on the rare occasions they get behind the sticks, they’re able to throw the ball when they have to.

DeKalb put the Lions in a third-and-13 jam, but quarterback Jackson Barbour hit Rylan Crawford for a 23-yard gain. Barbour later hit Clayton Swartz on a 2-yard touchdown toss, finishing a 65-yard, 13-play drive that ate up more than seven minutes and made it 21-0.

An interception by Damien Gudakunst set up the Lions at the Baron 34, and DeKalb again had Leo at third and 13. Gudakunst then caught one from his own quarterback, a 24-yard scoring strike, and the Lions were up 28-0 at the break.

DeKalb’s defense got a win of sorts at the start of the second half. A holding call forced the Barons to punt from deep in their own territory, and Crawford’s punt return set up the Lions at the DeKalb 27.

DeKalb held this time as Barbour threw incompletions on third and fourth downs. Carson McCauley added a 31-yard field goal to his five extra points for the Lions.

Miller capped the scoring with a 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The two teams are in the same Class 4A sectional but are on opposite sides of the bracket. DeKalb will host Angola in the first round next week, while the Lions travel to Northridge.

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