Nine. That's the number of consecutive wins North Tama has reeled off since the end of August. Three more and they'll be state champions.
The Redhawks used a stifling defense and their proficient aerial attack to knock out Starmont 35-12 in the second round of the Class A state football playoffs on Monday.
North Tama scored early and often, needing just two plays to get on the board. Senior quarterback Jacob Wrage connected with Dalton Hulme on a nice 44-yard touchdown pass to put the Redhawks up by a score.
At top, Sklyer Kvidera and Dalton Hulme (left) team up to record a tackle for loss. Above, Jacob Wrage shakes off a defender.
An interception by Mitchell Boerm in the red zone swung what could have been a gain in momentum by the Stars back in North Tama's favor. Boerm then grabbed a 44-yarder of his own on the offensive end just a few plays into the ensuing drive, putting the Redhawks in the driver's seat.
Wrage finished the day with 262 yards on 14-of-18 passing and four touchdowns, all in the first half. He also ran for 49 yards.
Mitchell Boerm had just two receptions for 52 yards in the contest, but they were big - both went for touchdowns. Dalton Hulme and Tanner Swanger also caught TD passes, both finishing with just under 50 yards apiece. Hulme also helped provide some balance to the offense, especially in the second half. He finished the day with 63 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
Brent Billerbeck led the team with six receptions for 86 yards, helping the Redhawks get some important first downs in the second half to run the clock. Starmont failed to score until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Redhawks were solid as a squad, holding Starmont scoreless for the majority of the game. Skyler Kvidera had a huge game - recording a sack, a fumble recovery and 12 total tackles. Boerm, Hulme and Nolan Hefty - who also racked up 11 tackles in the game - each picked off a pass.
Monday's victory came on the heels of a 43-14 first-round dismantling of Turkey Valley last Wednesday night in which the Redhawks also put it away early.
The back-to-back playoff wins bring the Redhawks into what looks to be their biggest test of the season: a date with undefeated and second-ranked Wapsie Valley (11-0) in the quarterfinals.
The Warriors have been annihilating the competition, eclipsing the 50-point mark in six of their 11 games this season, and four times scoring more than 60 points. Their 48-20 win over Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Monday was the smallest margin of victory the Warriors have endured all season.
The fifth-ranked Redhawks head to Fairmont for the game this Friday with kickoff set for 7 p.m.