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Redhawks notch Homecoming win against Bucs 27-6

October 3, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama football continues to roll through District play and their season undefeated with a win over East Buchanan 27-6 on Friday, Sept. 28 to go 5-0 and keep their playoff dreams well and alive.

"We knew East Buc's quarterback could throw well and 22 for them is a particularly good receiver," coach Tom McDermott said. "They've always been a physical football program who are maybe younger and not as big this season, but they play the game we thought they would."

The Redhawks deferred in the Buccaneers, holding strong to force the first stop of the game. Zach Greiner was able to get a hand up on the punt to put North Tama on the East Buc 35. Though the Redhawks wouldn't be able to score on the subsequent drive, good field position was a common occurrence for the home team throughout the night. Noah Weber muscled his way in for a six yard touchdown run in the opening seconds of the second quarter to put the Redhawks up. The Bucs would strike back moments later, but failed on the two-point conversion to stay behind at 7-6, the final score of last year's matchup between the two schools. Yet Weber was not done as he scored his second touchdown on another six yard run in the closing minutes to give the Redhawks a 13-6 lead into halftime.

Article Photos

Tate Payne runs the ball against East Buchanan for North Tama’s Homecoming on September 27.

"We made some big-time mistakes to let them get that touchdown and prevented us from scoring a couple of times," McDermott said. "We ran the ball relatively well, yet our passing is so inconsistent. We have to do a better job of picking out the receiver we're supposed to be throwing to."

Gabe Kopriva would open the second half with a 60 yard kickoff return only to be fumbled away on the next play. Penalties and miscues would hinder several plays on the next drive before a 28 yard pass from Skyler Staker to Luke Pennell gave Weber an easy two yard run to go up 21-6. The Redhawks continued to run down the clock as the defense held the Bucs in check for the rest of the quarter, capped off by a fourth touchdown run by Weber for a yard.

"It was about us buckling down and moving the ball despite our earlier mistakes," McDermott said. "[East Buc] beat us on that one long pass early to punch it in, but our defense was stout. We got to use younger guys like Logan Rausch and Natha Kucera. Zane Nelson, our Homecoming King, hasn't played a lot this year and we worked him in this week. He did a nice job."

Weber led the running game with 104 yards on 20 carries, followed by Staker with 70 yards on 11 carries. Defensively, Staker and Greiner each had seven total tackles each. The win gives North Tama a 5-0 record on the season and 3-0 record halfway through District play. Winning their District would give the Redhawks an automatic bid in the playoffs, though six at-large spots are available if North Tama is unable to secure that automatic bid.

"Coach has been saying all week if we win, this game could guarantee us in the playoffs," Payne said. "We needed to stay focused even after giving up that touchdown. You get scored on once in awhile and you have to break through it."

"This is where we hoped to be at this point in the season," McDermott said. "We've had three tough District games in front, plus Lisbon before that was a difficult game. We may be playing for the District title next week depending on how things fall out."

While the Redhawks held the game in check for the final minute, Staker was called for an ejection from the game in the final seconds, leaving the Redhawk faithful in shock.

"They said [Staker] had an open hand to the helmet and contact to the helmet is an automatic ejection," McDermott said. "He will have to miss the next ball game."

Staker will miss a key matchup against the Spartans of Grundy Center on Friday, Oct. 4, who join North Tama atop their District with a 5-0 overall record and 3-0 District record.

"Grundy Center had a very good quarterback who can run and throw, plus they have good size in their line," McDermott said. "This is a well-coached team who are disciplined on defense. I feel this will be a good test for us."

Kopriva will likely get the start at quarterback, though the Redhawks will likely have to do some shuffling around at linebacker in Staker's absence on the field.

"Everyone will have to work extra hard without Staker in the game," Payne said. "Gabe has to step up and show he's ready to lead this team on the field."

While Grundy Center weighs heavily on the minds of the Redhawks, Payne took a moment to let his final homecoming game sink in. Payne, a three year starter and a member of the Homecoming Court, finished 25 yards overall and 4.5 total tackles in the win.

"It feels heartbreaking honestly, knowing this is my last Homecoming," Payne said. "I'm glad we got the win, but sad that I'll never play on this field."

Check out photos from the game, the Homecoming Queen coronation and the marching band performance on Flickr through a link on the Traer Star-Clipper Facebook page.



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