Wildcats fall in 2nd round of playoffs
HUMBOLDT – When the Humboldt High football team scored their first touchdown with 8:37 left to play, an energized head coach Greg Thomas shouted to his players, “we can do this.”
And up until the final minute of the Wildcats’ 21-12 second round Class 3A playoff loss to the South Tama Trojans Monday night in Humboldt, who could doubt this Wildcat football team.
After all, this was the same Wildcat squad – a senior-laden squad – that picked itself off the turf back in early September and won seven straight games to win their district title and earn the school’s first playoff berth in six years.
But the Trojans’ bruising rushing attack and some untimely miscues proved to be too much for Humboldt to overcome as they saw their season come to an end on a cold, bitter night at Mason Maach Field.
“I told the kids in the huddle here after the game that we were staring at 0-3 at the beginning and they hung in there with us coaches and reeled off seven wins in a row. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. They won a playoff game. I’m extremely proud of this group of young men for everything they stand for and everything they’ve done,” Thomas said.
“There’s no quit in these guys. We have 25 seniors who have been leaders on and off the field for us. They’ve been tremendous in the school hallways and on the field in practice. I expect their senior year to finish up just like that. There’s no quit in them,” Thomas said.
The Trojan ground game battered the Humboldt defense for 325 of its 344 total yards of offense. Led by senior running back Kyle Stepheson, the Trojans scored a touchdown in each of the second, third and fourth quarters.
And in between defensive stops when the Trojans kept Humboldt’s ground game in check, the Wildcats were unable to convert at times on offense when they needed to sustain a drive.
“South Tama is a tremendous running football team. That Stephenson kid is a heck of a football player. And he’s not the only one. They did a nice job up front with their line. I thought they played really good defense,” Thomas said. “The most surprising part of tonight was that we couldn’t move the ball better than we could. But South Tama deserves a lot of the credit tonight. They did an outstanding job.”
Humboldt’s normally potent ground attack was limited to just 42 yards on 17 carries. Sophomore tailback Brady Ross, who is among the top 10 3A leaders in statewide in rushing, could only muster 20 yards on eight carries before leaving the game in the second half with a leg injury.
South Tama (9-2) advanced into Friday’s quarterfinal round where they’ll face unbeaten and No. 3 ranked Grinnell (11-0).
“We had to throw the football and we spread them out and made some nice plays. Ben throws the ball extremely well and calls a nice two-minute offense. I’m just really proud of the way the kids hung in there,” Thomas said.
“There was no quit and I know they’ll take that with them the rest of their lives,” Thomas said.
See complete story and photos in the Humboldt Independent Newspaper.
South Tama 0 7 7 7 21
Humboldt 0 0 0 12 12
S–Sam Kuhter 1-yd run, Jose Fonseca kick, 10:35 2nd
S–Kuhter 20-yd pass to Vinny Lasley, Fonseca kick, 5:28 3rd
S–Erik Lux 3-yd run, Fonseca kick, 9:14 4th
H–Nikko Wheeler 16-yd run, kick play failed, 8:37 4th
H–Ben Jacobson 6-yd pass to Tyler Zaugg, kick play fail, 2:23 4th
1st downs 22 12
Rushes-yards 66-325 17-42
Passes (CAI) 2-4-0 13-28-1
Passing yards 19 185
Total net yards 344 227
Penalties-yards 5-36 2-20
Fumbles-lost 3-3 2-1
HHS DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
Tackles (solo-assist): Alex Nelson 10-4, Ryan Lee 5-6, Taylor Pedersen 3-10, Brady Ross 2-6, Ben Jacobson 4-2, Jerod Hauck 3-2, Garrett Nelson 1-4, Tyler Rutz 1-3, Bryan Larson 0-3, Cody Weisbrich 1-4, Devin Shiflett 0-3, Bryan Larson 0-3, Don Smith 0-1, Ian Hadar 1-0, Tyler Zaugg 0-1, Michael Orness 2-0.
Pass interceptions: none.
Fumbles recovered: Shiflett 1, Smith 1, Zaugg 1.
Tackle for loss: Hauck 1, Orness 1, Lee 1, Wheeler 1, Weisbrich 1.
Blocked punt: none.
Kickoffs: Austin Zylstra 1-60, Ian Hadar 1-13.
Kickoff returns: Conner Thompson 2-58, Matt Pogge 1-15, Jerod Hauck 1-0.
Punts: Zylstra 3-105 (35).
Punt returns: Zaugg 1-12.
RUSHING–H: Nikko Wheeler 2-28, Brady Ross 8-20, Tyler Rutz 1-5, Ben Jacobson 6-(-11).
PASSING–H: Ben Jacobson 13 of 28 for 185 yards, 1 interception.
RECEIVING–H: Matt Pogge 4-86, Tyler Zaugg 4-46, Jaxon Heinz 3-33, Landon Nokleby 1-12, Nikko Wheeler 1-8, Jerod Hauck 1-6.