North Tama reaches Class A finals again by blanking WACO, 28-0
By Travis Hines
Central Iowa Press
The Redhawks celebrate the win against Waco on Friday, Nov. 12 in the UNI-Dome in the Semi-final game of State football playoffs.
Photo by Amy Jantzen
CEDAR FALLS - Two years later, it's 'Take Two' for North Tama.
And the Redhawks did it the way they always do it - with a dominating defense and a steady, though sometimes spectacular, offensive attack.
Third-ranked North Tama found the end zone in every quarter, kept No. 4 WACO of Wayland off the board and earned its second trip to the championship game of the Class A state football playoffs in three seasons with a 28-0 victory over the Warriors on Friday morning at the UNI-Dome.
The victory sets up a meeting with top-ranked Madrid (13-0) in next Friday's 2:05 p.m. title game.
"It's just starting to kind of sink in with what the kids have accomplished," said North Tama head coach Brent Thoren. "They set out some very lofty goals all season, and it's just been very gratifying from a coach's perspective to watch them be able to work together and meet those goals."
"They're very motivated to accomplish those goals," added the second-year head coach. "We could have played better today, but we made just enough plays to put ourselves in a position to play for a state championship."
It was one play in particular that thrust the Redhawks into that position to claim the state title that eluded them with an overtime loss to Southern Cal in 2008's championship game.
With a 14-0 lead already, North Tama sent running back Cade Isenhower into the huddle with the play call of 'Dagger.'
It turned out to be a fitting moniker.
Quarterback Brendon Boerm followed his pass to receiver and fellow senior Lucas Hefty in the flat near the left sideline, took a lateral from Hefty in a new twist on the old favorite 'Hook and Ladder' trick play and raced 77 yards for the score to break the back of WACO (12-1) on North Tama's first possession of the second half.
"Actually, it wasn't the 21(-point deficit) as much as the 80-yard play," said Warriors head coach Chad Edeker. "When you give up an 80-yard play like that, it really did deflate us, and you could sort of see that in our kids.
"It did deflate us a lot. At 21 our kids were sort of like, 'What's next?'
It was a play that Thoren had been sitting on for six weeks before finally calling its number.
"We're very creative with Brendon, how we're going to distribute the ball to him," he said. "We worked on it all season. We thought now would be the time to show that play."
While the offense put the Warriors on the canvas, it was the defense that had them seeing stars.
WACO entered the game averaging 40 points per contest, but amassed only 214 yards of offense against the Redhawks. Just eight of those yards came through the air, as WACO was limited to 1-of-12 passing.
The Warriors had been shut out just once in the past five seasons prior to Friday's tilt. That time came in last year's quarterfinal loss to these same Redhawks.
"Our defense did just an outstanding job today," Thoren said. "We got (WACO) into some down and distances we thought was to our advantage, and then they had to do some things they normally don't like to do or want to do."
The Redhawk defense allowed 117 yards to Class A's eighth-leading rusher, Spencer Shepherd, but he needed 25 carries to get there, posting a 4.7 yards-per-carry mark. The senior averaged 7.6 yards per tote coming into the day.
"Every drive that (the Redhawks would) go that they did not give up a score, their defense fed on that and fed on it," said Edeker. "A lot of times in the year where we'll find something, we'll just hit it and hit it and hit it, and they did a very nice job.
"We'd get one play, but you weren't running it more than twice because the second and third time we ran it, it wasn't there."
North Tama's reserves deserve credit for preserving the Redhawks' seventh goose egg of the season as well, as they withstood five plays inside their own 10-yard line by the Warriors in the waning moments of the game with the starters watching from the sidelines.
"My heart was pumping, and we weren't even in," said Hefty of the day's final possession.
Boerm overcame a pair of first-half interceptions to have a hand in all four Redhawk touchdowns, tossing an 18-yard strike to Hefty in the first quarter and dashing 13 yards for a score in the second before his hook-and-ladder success in the third and a 4-yard toss to Tyler Cizek in the final frame.
Now North Tama will have an opportunity to complete a journey that finished tantalizingly close to its desired destination in the two previous seasons with the title game loss in 2008 and a semifinals setback last year to Mason City Newman Catholic, who the Redhawks dispatched in the quarterfinals last week.
"We want the whole thing," said Hefty. "It's huge for all of us seniors. We've been here before our sophomore years, and we got cut off short last year in a close game with Newman.
"We're really looking forward to it."