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Spartans blow past Chiefs

Solon rebounds with 42-0 conference win over Keokuk
Justin Gibbs, Tyler Linderbaum and Jackson Walker prepare to snap into action on defense during Solon’s 42-0 defeat of Keokuk on Friday, Sept 9.

SOLON– Storms abounded across the Iowa farmscape on Friday, Sept. 9, forcing back the start time of Solon’s game against the Keokuk Chiefs to 8 p.m. The winds picked up and the first leaves of the fall began their chaotic dance across the streets of Solon as Acivities Director Zach Wigle’s tweet warned the Spartan faithful of the delay just as the deluge began its slow progression over the field.
By 8 p.m., the largest surge of the storm had passed, the game’s scheduled halftime was adjusted, and the two teams took to the field, amid a gentle trickle of droplets, to do battle in the Spartans’ first Class 3A District 5 match up of the 2016 season. The storm to ensue on the field, as Solon washed over the Keokuk Chiefs, 42-0, did well to wash away the memory of last week’s loss.
Solon entered the competition 1-1 on the season, fresh off a solid 34-0 defeat at the hands of 1A powerhouse Iowa City Regina.
The Keokuk Chiefs entered Spartan Stadium 2-0 following victories over Donnellson Central Lee (12-7) and Chariton (50-13).
The first quarter, with the spitting rain, was testing by both teams. Weighing strengths and weakness, Solon found the upper hand scoring 6-0 on a rushing touchdown by Kendrick Harris, but missing the extra point with a little over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Spartans found the end zone again about three minutes later in the first quarter on a Blayze Griffis to Jacob Coons pass, and Griffis rectified the missed extra point with a 2-point rushing conversion.
In the second quarter, the Spartans stuck to what was working and ground out another 28 unanswered points to end the first half; six from a reception by Payton Bandy, six posted by Griffis rushing, 12 points ground out by Harris, and four extra points from Anthony Bullard, who was 4-5 on point-after attempts for the evening.
The clock ran continuously in the second half and Solon controlled field position for the most part, not allowing the Chiefs to mount much in the way of offense.
Turnovers impacted Keokuk’s ability to move the ball, too, as Solon’s Greg Brandt snatched two interceptions and scooped up a fumble and Chase Gehrke picked up a fumble as well.
The scoreboard glowed crimson with the results as the horn sounded, ending the game with the Spartans victorious over the Chiefs, 42-0.
The Spartans racked up 190 yards in the air as Griffis went 9-11 passing with 186 yards, and two passing touchdowns. Spencer Wegmann took the helm for some reps at quarterback, going 1-1 passing for 4 total yards. The quarterbacks collectively hit Bo Black three times for 67 yards; Bandy and Coons reeled in two catches apiece for 36 and 24 yards, respectively; and Anthony Bullard, Grant Goldsberry and Zach Cusick pulled in a catch each for 38, 21, and 4 yards. Coons and Bandy were credited with receptions for touchdowns.
In normal Spartan fashion, Solon posted 228 yards on the ground. Harris was the workhorse of the evening, carrying the ball 20 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns, his longest score for 27 yards. Bryce West was called upon later in the game, carrying the ball 12 times for 38 yards. Cole Flansburg and Griffis carried the ball three times apiece with Flansburg netting no yards and Griffis collecting 34, including a 2-yard touchdown run. Adam Bock carried the ball one time for 2 yards and Wegmann carried the ball twice for -4 total yards.
Adam Bock kicked off seven times with one touchback and amassed 359 total yards. Bullard punted twice for 36 total yards.
Grant Goldsberry returned a punt for 9 yards.
On defense Brandt, Gehrke, Tyler Linderbaum, Trevor McGill, Jack Stahle, and Wegmann recorded two solo tackles with Linderbaum recording an assist with one of his tackles for loss. Bandy, Black, Matt Folkerts, Justin Gibbs, Austin Kennedy and Bryce West all pulled down a solo tackle apiece. Folkerts, Gibbs, Kennedy and Storm Scott also recorded tackle assists.
When approached about the positive takeaways from the game, Coach Kevin Miller said, “We were physical in every aspect of the game and our overall execution was vastly improved over last week’s game. I felt we controlled the line of scrimmage and when you’re able to do that consistently, you have a chance to win.”
“We have to value each possession and give maximal effort on every play,” Miller said. “When we’re able to focus and control our effort on every play we have a chance to be successful. We have emphasized the importance of tempo and practicing with a sense of urgency and our tempo has improved, but still has a ways to go.”
Solon travels to Washington on Friday, Sept. 16, for its second Class 3A District 5 game of the season. The Demons sit at 3-0 and meet the Spartans coming off a 47-12 win over Mount Pleasant posting a relatively balanced performance of 264 total yards rushing and 241 total yards in the air, while holding Mount Pleasant to 201 total yards of offense (170 yards rushing and 31 yards receiving). Game time in Washington is 7:30 p.m.
“Washington is a very solid team. They have a potent offense and a stingy defense. Offensively their quarterback is as good as any we’ll face this year,” Miller said. “Additionally, they have a number of other capable athletes that can make plays.”
When asked about Trevor Nelson, who dressed for Keokuk but did not see action, Miller said he was hopeful. “He probably could’ve played but we elected not to play him,” he said.
Solon was defeated by the Demons during regular season play in 2015, and the Spartans eliminated them from the playoffs during the postseason on a Brandan Childs field goal and during the same game, Washington’s quarterback broke his arm.