Redhawks suffer worst loss in eight years
WAVERLY – Walston-Hoover Stadium is anything but the geographical middle between Nashua-Plainfield and North Tama, and the only high school football game in the state Saturday night showed two programs just as far apart on the gridiron.
Just not the way they’ve come to expect in Redhawk Country, however.
Nashua-Plainfield planted its flag with authority, pinning down the Redhawks to the tune of 6 yards of total offense as the Huskies hammered their way to a 48-0 triumph in Saturday’s Week Zero game – the first football game on Wartburg College’s new field turf surface.
It’s the worst loss North Tama has suffered since 2005 – the program’s last losing season (4-5) – and the first shutout defeat since 2007.
Nashua-Plainfield’s running attack scampered its way to 389 yards and six touchdowns, and Hunter Mueller’s 84-yard punt return accounted for the only other score in the Huskies’ dominant win from wire to wire.
Reece Reams rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, Zade McCall gained 70 yards and two scores, and the Huskies handled North Tama from the opening kickoff.
“I’ll give Nashua-Plainfield a lot of gredit, they were very phsical, they came to play, they’re well coached,” said North Tama’s second-year coach Dan Oltman. “That’s a very physical team.”
The Huskies had 46 of their 50 plays go for positive yards, nevermind those with penalties, while North Tama netted just 6 total yards of offense. The Redhawks, who had won eight straight season-opening games, managed only three first downs the entire night.
North Tama showed every sign of being the team that graduated 16 regulars from last year’s lineup, a squad that extended the program’s postseason streak to seven years in a row.
Oltman does not have the luxury of thinking far enough ahead to worry about reaching No. 8.
“We need to make sure this week when we prepare for Week 1 that we focus on the fundamentals,” he said. “We got tired and when we got tired we lost our focus, and when we lose our focus the fundamentals kind of go by the wayside. We need to focus on the fundamentals this week in practice.”
Nevermind that Class 1A powerhouse Aplington-Parkersburg will be hosting the Redhawks on Friday night in Parkersburg. Some of the Falcons were even in the stands watching. A-P hosts Nashua-Plainfield in district play in Week 8, and that matchup suddenly seems more intriguing despite last year’s 55-14 Falcon triumph.
The Huskies held North Tama to a three-and-out on its opening possession and followed Caden Stuart’s 40-yard punt with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 4 minutes, 5 seconds, and was conducted entirely on the ground. Nashua-Plainfield had four runs of double-digit yardage on the drive.
Though the Redhawk defense bristled in the red zone, it still wasn’t enough to stop the Huskies. Quarterback Jordan Klingman capped it with a 1-yard plunge behind his brawny line on fourth-and-goal, and Nashua-Plainfield was in front to stay.
Another three-play possession for the Redhawks followed, and Nashua-Plainfield’s longest play from scrimmage of the night was Mueller’s 57-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep around the right end. Two drives, two touchdowns, and the Huskies had the shellshocked Redhawks on their heels already, 13-0.
North Tama finally got its initial first down of the game on a pass interference penalty with 3:09 to go in the first quarter. An 11-yard scramble for Redhawk quarterback Brody Hulme extended the drive, but it eventually fizzled out and ended at midfield after Nashua-Plainfield held on fourth-and-five.
The Huskies turned the favorable field position into another touchdown, this one the first of McCall’s two 13-yard scoring runs in the second quarter. Mueller’s 84-yard punt return came in between, nullifying Tony Weber’s 56-yard punt with his dazzling scoring dash.
Weber’s recovery of Nashua-Plainfield’s only fumble – a missed exchange between Klingman and Mueller – gave North Tama its only possession in Huskies territory with 3:42 left in the second quarter. But the Redhawks’ ensuing drive went 15 yards the wrong way, and it was the last time North Tama’s offense would see the other side of the 50-yard line until the final play of the game.
“We were at times, we were in position offensively and defensively to make the plays, we just need more experience,” said Oltman. “We’re a very young team right now so that experience needs to come game after game after game, and with that experience if we keep repping the fundamentals and that game experience, we’ll be alright.”
The Redhawks looked a long way from alright on this night. They gained just 6 yards of total offense after the ground game finished with 22 attempts for minus-46 yards. Omar Martinez caught three passes for 32 yards. Hulme was 5-for-12 passing for 52 yards with a fourth-quarter interception, but the junior rarely had time to set his feet and throw. Nashua-Plainfield’s defensive line was in his face all night.
“They were very physical, they came to play. That’s basically all it is,” Oltman said of Nashua-Plainfield. “We talked to Brody about staying positive, being a leader. He is one of the leaders of this team and he carries a lot of weight on this team. He plays a big role on this team.”
Hulme is the only returning member of last year’s squad that threw a pass. In all, the Redhawks returned only 5 percent of their yards from scrimmage thanks to that sizeable and successful graduating class.
Obviously a long row left to hoe, Oltman seemed certain his team would be ready for the workload.
“There were some bright spots. We picked up some blocks here and there, our route-running got better, some of our reads weren’t too bad, but like I said, we need a little bit more experience and we need a little bit more fundamental work,” Oltman said. “We’ll get those things taken care of.
“It’s going to be an intense week of learning and focusing on the fundamentals. It’s going to be intense but that doesn’t mean we’re going to drive them into the ground. It’s going to be a week of learning and intense, focused practice.”
North Tama’s Kelon Hansen was the only Redhawk to rush for positive yards, taking the handoff 7 yards on the final play of the game. … Nashua-Plainfield ran 48 times for 389 yards, an average of 8.1 yards per carry. Huskies’ QB Klingman was 2-for-2 for 52 yards, with both completions gaining first downs. N-P did not attempt a pass after halftime. … Jason Fisher’s 34-yard TD run midway through the third quarter put Nashua-Plainfield over the 35-point lead and started the running clock for the remainder of the game. … North Tama’s last shutout defeat was a 47-0 playoff loss to Wapsie Valley in 2007. North Mahaska defeated the Redhawks 48-0 in 2005. This marked the program’s worst loss since falling to eventual state champion Hudson in the 1994 regular-season finale, 49-0.