By Karl Younkman
South Haven’s David Hughes had one thing above all on his mind as his Cardinals football team prepared to meet Udall last Friday night.
“The defense was a big concern to us,” said Hughes. Udall is a fast, physical team and Hughes wanted his defense to play hard every down. Mission accomplished, as the Cardinals dominated seemingly all aspects of the game for a 54-8 win.
“We played a stellar game on defense,” Hughes said Sunday. “The guys played strong and came at them with a lot of energy.” TJ Yunker and Anthony Hawkins were the spearheads on the defensive side of the ball and Parker Ray at noseguard closed down the middle of the Udall offensive attack. Udall could only manage 91 yards rushing against the Cardinals. Running back Loos picked up 69 of those yards, including a 39 yard TD for the first score of the game.
After Udall scored, Yunker and Hawkins went to work on the offensive side of the ball, with Yunker hooking up with Hawkins on a 52 yard pass play for six points. The failed 2-point try left South Haven one point behind but later in the quarter Hawkins found Zach Pounds with a 10 yard pass for a score and the same combo was good on the 2-point try this time. Yunker hit paydirt with a 4-yard rush to put the Cardinals up 20-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Hughes had special praise for the work of his offensive line. Ends Jordin Black and Zach Pounds and interior linemen Tanner Creed, Richie Goble, and Clay White were singled out as a group by Hughes. “Those five controlled the line of scrimmage all night,” said Hughes. “Anthony Hawkins did a good job throwing the ball for us also.”
Hawkins completed 6 of 12 passes for the night and in addition to his two 1st quarter TD tosses, added on more to Pounds for 17 yards and ran for a 2-yard score in the third quarter. Yunker was again the workhorse though, rushing 20 times for 133 yards and 4 TDs and catching 3 of Hawkins’ passes. Pounds caught the other 3. Yunker scored on runs of 7 and 2 yards in the second quarter and closed out the scoring for the night with a 52 yard gallop in the third.
South Haven enters district play this week with a matchup at Caldwell High, a 60-14 victim of South Barber Friday night. “Caldwell is well-coached and will run straight at you,” said Hughes. “ They’ve had some unfortunate injuries this season but their staff will have them ready to play.”
Page 2 of 3 - South Barber, one of the powerhouse teams of 8-Man II District 4, rolled up 314 yards rushing with 7 TDs against the Bluejays. They added two more scores through the air. Caldwell will be looking for it’s third win of the season this Friday when South Haven comes to town.
That South Barber team will host Argonia/Attica this Friday in a district match and the Titans of A/A will have to improve their rushing defense that was on display in a 46-30 loss to Stafford last Friday. Johnson of Stafford amassed 250 yards with 4 touchdowns against A/A.
The Titan’s offensive success was in the passing game as Alec McDaniel completed 19 of 32 for 328 yards and 3 scores. McDaniel also scored a TD on the ground with a 5-yard scamper. The receptions were spread between Garrett Wells with 7 for 100 yards and a TD and Devon Newberry, 7 for 141 and 2 scores.
In their game against Trinity Academy two weeks ago the Conway Springs Cardinals did not attempt a pass. In the Game of the Week matchup against Class 3A rival Garden Plain, the Cardinals attempted 5 passes and completed 4 of them. In a game where the Conway Springs vaunted rushing attack was for the most part held in check, each one of those completions was key.
The Cardinals’ Dakota Finstad accumulated 132 yards completing those passes. Coach Matt Biehler was proud of the way Finstad performed. “ Dakota did a good job of standing in the pocket and delivering the ball,” Biehler said. “ And Alec Stanley made a great catch where he basically tipped the ball to himself.” That catch went for 57 yards and set up Luke Fisher’s 9 yard run for a TD in the first quarter.
“When we play Garden Plain you can just throw out the records,” Biehler said Sunday. “The yards are always tough to come by. They took away a lot of our running game we had to go with other options.” Two of Finstad’s pass completions came on 3rd and 10 situations in the fourth period to extend drives after the Owls had closed to within 19-8.
Along with his 1st quarter TD, Fisher added one in the second, a 1-yard plunge. The Conway Springs defense recorded a safety also in the second period for a 16-0 halftime lead. Bryce Davis got into the scoring act with a 20-yard field goal in the 3rd quarter to extend the Cardinal’s lead. Davis also kicked two PATs.
Page 3 of 3 - Travis Wood scored Conway Springs final touchdown on a 2-yard run after a 14-play, 7 minute drive to put the game out of reach. For the night, Wood ran 24 times for 93 yards and caught one pass for 23 yards. Fisher picked up 29 yards to go with his two scores and Alex Gillespie caught one of those key passes for 37 yards. Hunter Huff snagged the other one for 15 yards.
Coach Biehler was elated with his defense on this night. “Garden Plain went 34 minutes without picking up a first down at one stretch,” Bieher said. “I thought our D-line played extremely well and our secondary had some big hits. The linebackers covered very well all night.”
The Cardinals open district play at winless Belle Plaine Friday night. “We told our kids before we played the last three games that they would be three tough games,” said Biehler. “We are telling our kids the same thing about these playoff games. We’re excited to play and we have to continue to do what we do, controlling the line of scrimmage.”
At this point, the unbeaten Cardinals have that scrimmage line under control.