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Redhawks triumphant over Warriors to begin district play

September 19, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama football made a statement in Class A football with a 13-7 win on Friday, Sept. 13 over a ranked Waspie Valley team heavily favored in their shared district as the Redhawks begin their true work to qualify for the postseason for the second year in a row.

"Wapsie Valley's passing game is so good and we worked long and hard to find a way to defend that," coach Tom McDermott said. "The kids all week long talked about what they needed to do, how they needed to cover. So many guys on this team catch the ball well. Plus their running back, Trevor Sauerbrei, is tremendous."

The Redhawks opened a competitive four-game stretch as they hosted the Warriors and came out with their defense ready to play. Luke Pennell intercepted a pass on Wapsie Valley's opening drive. Skyler Staker would throw his own pick, yet the defense would hold strong to get the ball back. Wapsie Valley held the offense in check to get the ball back on downs, scoring on the last drive of the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. Surviving a fumble, several drives failing to make much headway and Noah Weber getting up after a big hit, the Redhawks held on to keep the score 7-0 at halftime.

Article Photos

Noah Weber runs in for North Tama’s second touchdown against Wapsie Valley on Friday, Sept. 13. Weber had 45 yards on eight carries in the win.

"We're not as explosive offensively as I'd like us to be, but proved our defense can light up games too, which I feel is just as demoralizing," McDermott said.

However, the offense was struggling to sustain drives and adjustments needed to be made. Senior Zach Greiner spelled Weber at running back, yet proved to be the turning point in the first drive of the second half as Greiner scored on a three-yard run.

"What we had planned wasn't working right away, so halfway through the game, we figured we could run the ball down their throats this game," Greiner said. "It wasn't expected, especially with Noah going down for part of the night. They gave me the ball and our offensive line did a great job tonight. Hats off to the coaches for making that decision. Weber and I got it done tonight."

The Redhawks proved more versatile in the second half, buckling down on the run game that had proved so successful for the program last season in getting them to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. As the defense continued to create stops, the Redhawks created a long, taxing drive from the seven-yard line in their own territory to kill the clock. Helped by a 28-yard pass play from Gabe Kopriva to Luke Pennell, Weber re-established his run game as Staker created blocks to push the junior through the Warrior's defense.

"'You follow me, I'm going to lead you to victory,' that was some leadership by Skyler," McDermott said. "That was outstanding for him, to go from a glory player at quarterback to being a blocking back. We made some bad decisions with our passing game, so we felt we could run the ball. Our kids wanted to do that."

Weber capped off North Tama's final drive of the game with a four-yard run, giving the Redhawks a 13-7 lead after a missed extra point. Though out for a portion of the game, Weber's 45 yards as part of the run game proved to be vital in sustaining the scoring drive in one of the biggest games of his career.

"This is our biggest game of the regular season," Weber said. "They are a great team, probably the best in our district. I knew coming into this season I'd have to work hard in the offseason because Tyler [Morrison] was a great running back for us. It feels good to be the next guy up with this team."

5:08 remained on the clock. With the missed point, Wapsie Valley had a chance to seal the win with a touchdown and point after with plenty of time. The Warriors came out with several explosive plays to quickly make their way down the field. As they reached the red zone, the Redhawks flexed their defense one last time, preventing any significant gain. A false start by the Warriors pushed them back to the 14-yard line as they proved unable to get the touchdown they needed and turned the ball over on downs. The Redhawks ran out the remaining clock by sticking to their run game, holding on for the 13-7 win.

"Everyone stayed with their responsibility and we got some pressure on the quarterback to throw high for the first time tonight," McDermott said. "Overall, we showed our toughness tonight. We have a mentality to be physical and felt from the start we can handle these players. We made mistakes early, but our kids showed a lot of heart tonight."

McDermott continued with the fact the Redhawks are far from done as they next head to defending champion Hudson on Friday, followed by East Buchanan for Homecoming on September 27 and then at Grundy Center on October 4.

"We have to keep going," McDermott said. "This stretch is as tough as anything in the State for Class A."

The win puts North Tama 3-0 on the season, 1-0 in District 7, tied with Grundy Center (3-0) ahead of their matchup with Hudson (1-2) on Friday. But on Friday night, the Redhawks took in the moment of toppling the second-ranked team in Class A.

"I say we gained some respect throughout the state tonight," Greiner said.

Photos of North Tama's win over Wapsie Valley can be found linked on the Traer Star-Clipper Facebook page.



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