Falls City Sacred Heart’s 74-0 mauling of Deshler last Thursday brought new meaning to the phrase, “eight-man football.”
Friday against the top-ranked Irish, the Dragons dressed and played only eight for the entire game. Something Irish head coach Doug Goltz had never seen in his head-coaching career.
“They played the entire game with eight players,” Goltz said. “I spoke to their team after the game telling them I had never seen that done before and that I had a lot of respect for them for being able to do that. Pretty unbelievable.”
Unfortunately for the Dragons, post-game respect could not erase what the Irish did on the field. SH, which improved to 8-0 and secured the number one seed in the east bracket of the Class D2 playoffs, scored 41 points in the first quarter and added another 19 in the second quarter to build a 60-0 halftime lead. The Irish had touchdowns from all three phases of the game in that opening quarter – two came via the defense, one from special teams, two more through the air and one on the ground.
Brandon Schawang opened the game with a 20-yard pick-six, followed up by Austin Malone’s 35-yard punt return score. Next it was quarterback Chaz Dunn throwing TD passes to Colin Niemeyer and Sean Strasheim on the Irish’s first two offensive series. Zavan Kirkendall made it 35-0 with 2:38 left to play in the first when he scooped up a fumble on the Deshler five-yard line and carried it in for the TD. Sawyer Kean added the sixth first-quarter TD when he took the rock 45 yards to paydirt.
Dunn finished the night 11-of-12 passing with 100 yards and three TD’s. Kean’s 45-yard TD run was his only carry of the ball game and starting ends, Niemeyer and Strasheim, finished with three catches for 27 yards and four catches for 32 yards, respectively.
SH’s first-team defense was stout once again en route to their first shutout of the season. SH allowed only 60 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers, recorded seven sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss. The Dragons rushed 23 times for negative-24 yards.
Kirkendall led the Irish with four solo stops, while Schawang finished with 11 total tackles and Jarod Fiegener added 10. Fiegener and Daniel Keithley each finished with a pair of quarterback sacks and Niemeyer recorded his first two interceptions of the season.
Up next for SH is the Kenesaw Blue Devils, who will make the three-and-a-half hour trip east to Jug Brown Stadium Thursday for a 5 p.m. playoff game. The 2-6 Blue Devils are one of five two-win teams to make the playoffs in Classes C and D.
“Kenesaw has size and runs a lot of power football,” Goltz said. “They are big across the line, but are missing some of their playmakers due to injury.”
Kenesaw is led by junior Isaiah McCheshney (No. 11, RB-DB), junior Zachary Edwards (No. 57, OL-DL) and sophomore Keaton Harpham (No. 10, QB-DB). McChesney leads the team with 660 rushing yards on 125 carries and has rushed for five touchdowns. Edwards, at 245 pounds, anchors the interior, and leads the team with 65 tackles.
“We should have a speed advantage, which I think has been a problem for them this year,” Goltz said.
Goltz, looking ahead a little at the bracket, added, “We pass the ball more and the scheme is different offensively, but it usually comes down to how good the other teams are out there. This team is capable of making a run.”