ROCKTON - You had to consider the quarterback position a question mark for Hononegah's Indians heading into this season only because senior Ryan Van Schelven was so good last fall.
There's no longer any uncertainty.
Payton Mather has proved he's a more than capable replacement, leading the Indians (2-0) to a thrilling victory over Harlem in week one and then tossing three touchdown passes Friday night as the Indians built a 47-7 lead against visiting Rockford Guilford at Kelsey Field.
The Vikings closed within 47-30 thanks to a flurry of late scores against Indians reserves, but were never really in the game thanks to the strong right arm of Mather.
"We see Payton improving every week," Hononegah head coach Brian Zimmerman said. "He's gaining some confidence in himself and he's getting much better with his receivers as far as reading them. The more he works with those guys, maybe that's all it takes."
The 6-foot-3 senior was known more for his velocity and accuracy playing the infield and pitching for the Indians in the spring. But his skills obviously translate well to the gridiron. He was 13-of-17 for 159 yards against the Vikings, throwing TD strikes of 6 yards to Kendall Cross, 7 yards to Kaden Van Schelven and 18 to Colton Rowlett.
"We knew what they were running and how to attack it," Mather said. "I thought we did a pretty good job executing our game plan. After last week we wanted to come out and work on our passing game a little bit. We know (running backs) Dylan Collins and Christian (Gomez) will be there when we need them all year."
Gomez finished with nine carries for 41 yards and Collins had four carries for 19 yards. Each scored a pair of TDs.
Gomez and Collins capped drives of 54 and 59 yards with scores from a yard out to put Hononegah up 13-0 through one quarter.
Guilford self-destructed in the second. Generally when you arrive at fourth down it's not pleasant anyways, but the Vikings made them cringe-worthy.
First, the Vikings chose to go for it on fourth-and-3 from their own 40 and fell a yard short. Mather hit three straight passes, the last a 6-yard laser to Cross in the end zone.
After the kickoff, four plays later the Vikings faced a fourth-and-21 from their 27 and snapped the ball low to punter Trentin Woodard and he had to run for his life. Ashton Banker tackled him on the Guilford 19 and Gomez took it 18 on first down and then walked into the endzone on the next carry for a 27-0 lead as Bryce Goodwine booted the PAT.
Hononegah continued to stall Guilford's offense and take advantage of the fourth-down follies. Facing fourth-and-four and their 38 the Vikings gambled again and Isaiah Zawlocki flew in to tackle Guilford's George Curry for a 7-yard loss.
This time it took Hononegah four plays as Mather found Kaden Van Schelven open in the end zone for a 7-yard strike.
Guilford messed up one more fourth down in the first half as the punter had to fall on another low snap at the 1-yard line. Collins scored on the next play. Lucas Hale booted the PAT for a 41-0 lead.
• UP NEXT: The Indians travel to Freeport next Friday night.
• BOXSCORE: HONONEGAH 47, GUILFORD 30
Rockford Guilford... 0 0 6 24 - 30
Hononegah.....13 28 0 6 - 47
Hono - Gomez, 1, run (kick failed)
Hono - Collins, 1, run (Goodwine kick)
Hono - Cross, 6, pass from Mather (Goodwine kick)
Hono - Gomez, 1, run (Goodwine kick)
Hono - Van Schelven, 7, pass from Mather (Goodwine kick)
Hono - Collins, 1, run (Hale kick)
RG - Sherman, 3, run (run failed)
Hono - Rowlett, 18, pass from Mather (Hale kick)
RG - Sage, 3, run (McCune run)
RG - Woods, 39, run (Sago run)
RG - Woods, 24, run (Sago run)
First downs - RG 5, Hono 223. Rushing - RG 42-197. Hono 30-85. Passing - RG 0, Hono 159. Passes - RG 2-0-0, Hono 18-13-0. Punts - RG 2-36.5, Hono 2-36.0. Fumbles - RG 6-0, Hono 3-1. Penalties - RG 5-50, Hono 3-20.
Leading individuals: Rushing - RG, Woods 6-92, Curry 9-84. Hono, Gomez 9-41, Collins 4-19, Krane 4-26. Passing - RG, Bieht 2-0-0. Hono, Mather 17-13-0, 159; Goodwine 1-0-0. Receiving - Hono, Whitaker 2-33, Sayles 2-31, Cross 2-26.