All the preseason prognosticating finally came to an end this week with the official opening of the 2012 football season. For the North Tama Redhawks, all the preseason hype seems to be deserved. The boys cruised to an easy 28-12 win over Nashua-Plainfield in a special Saturday night contest at Wartburg College in Waverly.
Offensively, the Redhawks were led by senior Jacob Wrage, who led the team not only in passing, but in rushing from the quarterback position. Wrage was responsible for all four of the team's touchdowns, throwing for two and using his speed and elusiveness to run for two scores.
The game began as a bit of defensive struggle, with both offenses looking a little sluggish in the earlygoing. But North Tama took little time to shake off any offseason rust, putting together a nice drive late in the first quarter to get things started.
The North Tama Redhawks entered the 2012 season with high expectations, and did nothing to dispel that in their opening game against Class 1A’s Nashua-Plainfield. The boys earned a 28-12 victory by playing solid defense and relying on good balance on the offensive end. Above, Jacob Watson uses some nice moves to gain extra yardage on the outside. Below left, Brent Billerbeck snags an interception, one of three on the day for the Redhawks. Below right, quarterback Jacob Wrage tosses aside a Nashua-Plainfield defender during one of his many successful running attempts. Wrage accounted for all four of the Redhawks’ touchdowns.
Wrage connected with senior wide receiver Mitchell Boerm on a 38-yard reception, who was a threat on the outside all game long. Wrage and Boerm hooked up for an eight-yard touchdown through the air on the same drive, drawing first blood and leading 7-0.
But it looked as if the 1A Huskies came to play, taking the ensuing kickoff 91 yards on the return for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the Redhawks with a 7-6 lead after the first quarter of play.
North Tama really got rolling in the second quarter, with Wrage scampering 25 yards for a touchdown, followed by another connection with Boerm for a 24-yard touchdown pass. Wrage also added another 26-yard touchdown run later in the quarter.
On the day, Wrage completed 16 of his 33 pass attempts and threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns. His two rushing touchdowns also came on an impressive 57 yards on the ground.
In the receiving game, Mitchell Boerm finished the day with two touchdown receptions on 70 yards through the air. Brent Billerbeck also chipped in two big receptions for 40 yards. Jacob Watson led the team in receiving with seven catches for 80 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Nolan Hefty had a great game with six solo tackles, including one for a loss, and 11 assists. Brandon Kaufman also had eight total tackles, and Skyler Kvidera recorded a sack in the contest.
The kicking game was also solid for the Redhawks, with Tanner Swanger driving several kickoffs deep, including one for a touchback. The kickoff coverage, however, was one of the areas the team will look to address in the coming weeks. A 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave Nashua-Plainfield one of its two touchdowns on the day.
Overall, head coach Dan Oltman was pleased with the way his team came out to open the 2012 season.
"We have some things we need to work on, but the first three games of our non-district schedule are going to be a good measuring stick for us," Oltman told the Times-Republican after the game. "We need to come ready to play each week, but it was nice to get that first win."
Oltman was especially impressed with the defensive play, as the Redhawks held the Huskies to just one offensive touchdown.
"We anticipated what they were going to do most of the night on defense," Oltman said. "I give credit to the players and assistant coaches. They did a tremendous job with the scouting report."
The Redhawks were fortunate to escape with just a few injuries, the most notable being the leg injury suffered by Dalton Hulme in the earlygoing. Hulme missed the remainder of the game and had to be helped out to the bench by teammates after halftime.
North Tama will look to continue its winning ways with the 2012 home opener this Friday night. The boys will take on Aplington-Parkersburg, with the Booster Club hosting a tailgate party prior to the game beginning at 5 p.m.
"We are going to be playing a very good team on Friday night so we need to have another good week of preparation," Oltman said. "We played well [against Nashua-Plainfield], but I would like to see us have more consistency in our pass protection and play better on kickoffs. We need to stay in our lanes better and be more disciplined."
Gametime for the contest is set at 7 p.m.