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Redhawk offense comes alive against Grundy Center 34-26

October 4, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The North Tama Redhawks followed up a low scoring 7-6 win over East Buc with a high scoring 34-26 win against the Grundy Center Spartans on Friday, Sept. 28 in Traer.

"Grundy Center has a very explosive offense led by their freshman quarterback, Logan Knaack," coach Tom McDermott said. "We knew he was going to be good, but he was even better than we'd though he'd be. We had a couple of mistakes on the first play of the game as he went for a quick touchdown and had trouble containing him.

The Spartans indeed got off to a quick start with a touchdown only 17 seconds into the game, but the Redhawks swiftly responded with five-yard touchdown by Tyler Morrison a minute and a half later in the game. North Tama attempted a two-point conversion to put themselves on top, but the run failed and Grundy Center followed up minutes later with a field goal. The Redhawks responded again late in the quarter with another touchdown run by Morrison only to see their slim lead brushed away by a 22-yard touchdown pass by Knaack with 44 seconds left in the quarter.

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Noah Bond (13) recorded 4.5 tackles (three solo) against the Grundy Center Spartans on Friday, Sept. 28. Bond also had 57 yards on two receptions for the Redhawks.

While the game slowed down with a touchdown by each squad, the scoreboard favored Grundy Center 20-19 at halftime. Coming out the locker room, the Redhawks flipped the script on the Spartans as they limited their run game and stepped on defense to limit the visitors.

"We did well with our pass coverage, but the running game is tough to stop with a quick and illusive quarterback," McDermott said. "Fortunately as the game went on, we did a better job. We gave up 17 points in that first quarter and only nine the rest of the game and that made the difference."

Hale Hulme made a 23-yard field goal to put North Tama back on top 22-20 in the third quarter. As the fourth began, Skyler Staker muscled his way in for a one-yard touchdown, following it up on the subsequent Spartan drive with a 40-yard interception return. While Hulme went one of four kicking on PATs, Staker's scoring in the fourth quarter was enough to weather one final six-yard touchdown run by Grundy Center to win 34-26.

"We'd been strong on kicks all year, missing only three or four all season prior to this game," McDermott said. "We have a variety of things to work on and our staff met to take care of it. Those points counts in these tight games."

On the ground, Morrison returned to form with 124 yards on 26 carries, followed by Hale Hulme with 39 yards on nine carries. Morrison also had 97 yards on four receptions as the Redhawks put together 313 passing yards total.

"Tyler had a really good game both running the ball and as a receiver," McDermott said. "We tried to get him the ball in lots of different ways. He did a job of his running plays and some plays we used to take advantage of their defense with. We had a toss play outside and run hard to come back from a rough game last week."

220 yard of that 313 came from Staker, who nine of his 15 passes and his interception to pull North Tama ahead in the fourth quarter.

"Skyler threw the ball very well at quarterback and we made adjustments to the patterns we run," McDermott said. "Most defenses will set their defenses to stop our run, so we were able to find some open seams for passes and we had some nice catches."

One of those catches came courtesy of Gabe Kopriva to Tate Payne for 54 of Payne's 107 yards on two receptions on the day. McDermott hopes to continue to improve their passing game to incorporate more into overall offense.

"Tate is a good receiver with fast speed," McDermott said. "We haven't been able to get the ball to him as much as we'd like in earlier games. He also plays great as a defensive back, covering a 6'-4" receiver that had been a big part of Grundy Center's offense well for the whole game."

Defensively, Zach Greiner led with eight tackles on the night, followed by Staker, Ryan McLean and Cory Isenhower with 6.5 tackles and Luke Pennell with five tackles. McDermott also acknowledged Chase Morrison's job at center, recognizing Grundy Center's defense and determining what needed done on the play.

"We struggled at time defensively with their quarterback and running backs, but we come up with the big plays when we need them," McDermott said. "Ryan McLean played well both defensively and offensively after missing last week. Our linebackers-especially Noah Bond-played particularly well and Zach Greiner played well. Skyler had that big interception for a touchdown return. Gabe Kopriva broke up several passes. We had multiple people step up for us."

The Redhawks will next travel to Green Mountain-Garwin on Friday, Oct. 5 before returning home for Senior Night against Postiville on October 12.

"We got to stick with what we've been saying all season long: one game at a time," McDermott said. "We can't look ahead, can't think of who we're playing next. GMG is a natural rival being only down the road. Our kids are prepared to play them and know them to make this interesting. Weather could always be a factor."

North Tama is 5-1 overall and 3-1 in District play. Their final game of the season will be at BCLUW on Friday, Oct. 19.



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