TRAER - There may have been no halftime show Friday night at Dennis Athletic Field, but the North Tama football team was sure to provide plenty of entertainment on both sides of the break in a 45-0 romp over North Mahaska in the first round of the Class A state playoffs.
The Redhawk win sets up a quarterfinal contest with WACO on Friday at 6:15 p.m. at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Just 10 days removed from a grueling, hard-fought 7-0 win over the Warhawks, No. 1 North Tama (11-0) simply dominated the rematch. The Redhawks accumulated 442 yards of total offense while holding North Mahaska to just 55 total yards which was coupled with four turnovers. It marked the ninth shutout for the Redhawks this season and a stunning turnaround from the district matchup on Oct. 23.
Number 14, Colton Hamilton, rushes with the ball on one of his carries for a total of 142 yards for the game. Number 32, James Weida, puts up the block to clear the way for Hamilton.
Photo by Amy Jantzen
"I think we were extremely motivated from what we showed the last time we played (North Mahaska)," said North Tama head coach Brent Thoren. "Our offense took it upon themselves to say 'Hey, we need to come out and protect our defense.' Our defense has always been there for us, but it was our offense that really came and shined tonight."
After being held scoreless through the first 40 minutes of their previous matchup on a slick track, the Redhawk offense wasted no time strutting its stuff this time around.
After forcing a three-and-out in the Warhawks' first drive, North Tama took over on their own 48-yard line. A 23-yard run by Colton Hamilton on third down and a 14-yard hookup between quarterback Brendon Boerm and receiver Caleb Edwards on consecutive plays moved the ball to the North Mahaska 5-yard line. The five-play, 52-yard drive was finished off on the very next play by Hamilton, who bowled his way into the end zone just 2 minutes, 17 seconds after it had began.
The Redhawk offense found itself right back on the field just one play from scrimmage later after Edwards, also a defensive back, recovered a North Mahaska (8-3) fumble on the Warhawks' 31-yard line.
Facing a short field once again, North Tama needed just three plays to find the end zone. Hamilton scored his second touchdown in 72 seconds to give the Redhawks a two-score edge less than halfway through the first stanza.
Another three-and-out by the Warhawks - they failed to record a first down on six drives in the first half - made it seem as though North Tama would get another chance to pad its first-quarter lead. The North Mahaska punt was ruled, however, after some deliberation, to have hit a Redhawk player, giving the ball back to the Warhawks on the North Tama 31.
Going against a defense that had allowed just 18 points on the year and 97 total yards in their matchup 10 days ago, the Warhawks' new-found field position seemed to represent a do-or-die moment, though it was just seven minutes into the game.
All North Mahaska could muster was two incompletions, two rushes spanning 5 yards and a false start penalty, giving the ball right back to the Redhawks on downs.
Punts by both teams on the following two drives gave way to a 51-yard touchdown completion from Boerm to Edwards to give the Redhawks a 20-0 lead to close out the first quarter.
Edwards, in fact, figured in on three-straight Redhawk scores. Following his 51-yard TD grab, he tossed a 53-yard score to Lucas Hefty on a reverse halfback pass and Boerm found him in the back of the end zone from five yards out for another touchdown reception.
The senior finished the day with five catches for 100 yards, and the two touchdowns grabs pushed his already school-best career touchdown catch mark from 16 to 18.
Emerging from halftime with a 32-0 advantage, the Redhawks continued their big-play, quick-strike evening when Hamilton sprinted 59 yards for a score on the first play of the second half.
Hamilton finished the night with 144 yards and three touchdowns, not bad for a running back stepping in for one of Class A's top rushers, Dylan Youel, who has been battling back spasms for the past two games. Youel, who entered the night ninth in rushing in Class A, carried just one time against the Warhawks, but was able to play defense in the win. He spent the Redhawks' offensive possessions on the sideline riding a stationary bike.
"Colton came in and did an outstanding job. If that's something we can do, have (Youel) just play defense, with his injury, we're going to do it," said Thoren. "There was no point in wearing him out on offense. (North Mahaska) is a hard-hitting team. If we can just play him on defense, that's a compliment to the depth that we have on our team."
Hamilton has rushed for 288 yards and six touchdowns in relief of Youel in the Redhawks' past two games. Depth, indeed.
Things seemed to just go North Tama's way in the second matchup between the two school this season. A line-drive kickoff by the Redhawks in the second quarter hit a Warhawk player in the first-line of their kick return team, with the ball bouncing right back to the oncoming North Tama coverage team. The wacky turnover eventually setup Edwards' second touchdown catch.
"That was not a called (onside kick), that was absolutely not called," laughed Thoren of the strange play. "It was just kind of the way the ball bounced tonight: In our favor."
Boerm completed 9-of-17 passes on the night for 150 yards and two scores. Hefty caught two balls for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Kaufman rushed four times for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to provide the Redhawks their final score. Sean Dengler caught one pass for 13 yards.
Dylan Boyle threw for 33 yards and rushed for another nine, a Warhawk-high.
Kody Lake was North Mahaska's leading receiver with three receptions totalling 18 yards. Shane Schultz and Cody Vandonselaar both had one catch.
The Redhawks will now travel to the UNI-Dome, the site of their heartbreaking overtime loss to Southern Cal in the state championship game a year ago, to face the Warriors of WACO (8-3).
"We are really, really motivated. Things that happened last year stick in your mind," said Thoren. "We're really good at living in the moment and taking in the game itself and just building on it. Just taking that next step is something that we really hammer on.
"Just taking that next step."