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Spartans dominate Fairfield, 54-6, claim district title

After 9-0 season, Solon hosts Liberty Nov. 1 in first round

FAIRFIELD– The Solon Spartans completed another perfect regular season on Friday, Oct. 25, with a 54-6 win over the Fairfield Trojans to claim the 2019 Class 3A District 6 championship.
The win sets up a Friday, Nov. 1, match up at Spartan Stadium between the Liberty Lightning and the Solon Spartans in the opening round of the postseason starting at 7 p.m.
After building a 33-0 lead in the first half against the Trojans, the Spartans bolstered another 21 points in the second half, defeating Fairfield in a lopsided affair.
“I was pleased with our entire team,” Head Coach Kevin Miller said of the victory. “Very rewarding when every player on the squad contributed in some fashion to the outcome of the game.”
The Spartans were expected to win against Fairfield, which ended the season with an 0-9 record. The Solon defense held the Trojans to 4-19 passing for just 38 yards total, Solon senior Mathieux Rehnke jumped a pass for an interception running it back for three yards. Solon limited Fairfield’s ground game to just four total yards rushing on 18 carries and Spartan junior Danny Knezevich and senior Lucas Walker recovered a fumble apiece with no return for Solon.
Solon quarterback senior Cam Miller was 14-15 passing for 252 total yards with no interceptions, passing for four touchdowns. For the first time this season, Miller was not called upon to rush in the game. Junior Bo Janssen accrued more reps under center this season and went 1-2 passing for 31 yards and carried the ball seven times for a total of –3 yards rushing.
Miller and Janssen spread the ball around, hitting seven receivers. Senior A.J. Coons added 87 yards to his regular season total on four receptions scoring twice, the longest 34 yards. Junior Lucas TePoel collected 49 yards for the Spartans on two receptions, scoring one 44-yard touchdown. Junior Jackson Ryan tallied 50 yards on two catches. Senior Jace Andregg had three grabs for 36 yards including a 28-yard touchdown, Knezevich reeled in one catch for 31 yards, senior Seamus Poynton snatched two for 26 yards total and junior Colton Hoffman had one grab for four yards.
Poynton had the lion’s share of carries, 13, for 62 total yards rushing for Solon, scoring twice, the longest a 10-yard jaunt. Senior True Eidahl carried the ball nine times for a total of 47 yards including a 22-yard grab for a touchdown. Andregg got into the mix, scrambling twice for eight total yards including a six-yard carry to score.
Solon senior kicker Cael O’Neill went 6-7 on point-after attempts and kicked off eight times for 402 yards total. Junior Will Noonan kicked off once for 30 yards.
Senior Trey Stebral punted twice for the Spartans for 52 yards total, his best kick was 34 yards.
Andregg returned a kick off for 31 yards and senior Thomas Brandt returned one for three yards.
Coons returned two punts recording eight total yards, Janssen returned one for three yards, and Poynton handled the ball once on return for two yards.
“We came out and scored quickly and the defense had a couple of key turnovers,” Coach Miller summarized. “Overall, I was pleased with our collective effort and how each player contributed to the outcome of the game.
“Great team win and our staff was very pleased with how our players improved and performed this season,” he continued. “Proud of our players and how coachable and dedicated they've been from the very start.”
The Spartans locked up the No. 1 position in Class 3A in the final RPI ratings with their 9-0 record and .6910 RPI. They were followed by 15 other schools. Western Dubuque, 9-0, .6852, was second; Lewis Central, 8-1, .6821, was third; Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 8-1, .6823, was fourth; Norwalk, 8-1, .6775, was fifth; and they were followed by: Cedar Rapids Xavier, 8-1, .6612; Pella, 7-2, .6517; Harlan, 7-2, .6487; North Scott, 8-1, .6466; Dallas Center-Grimes, 8-1, .6449; Independence, 9-0, .6399; Glenwood, 7-2, .6360; Washington, 7-2, .6291; Carlisle, 7-2, .6243; Iowa City Liberty, 7-2, .5989; and Oskaloosa, 6-3, .5740.
The Spartans find themselves in Bracket A of the 2019 IHSSA Class 3A Football First Round and Quarterfinals pairings with kickoff of all games happening at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise. Tickets to the games are $8.
The No. 15 ranked Liberty Lightning (7-2) are the first challenge in win-or-go-home play for the Spartans on Nov. 1.
“Extremely pleased with the seeding how the bracket played out,” Coach Miller remarked. “We're strictly focused on Liberty and are anticipating a tremendous challenge.”
Coach Miller was pleased with the bracket seeding. If the Spartans defeat the Lightning, they advance to play the winner of the Nov. 1 game between No. 11 Independence (9-0) at No. 7 Pella (7-2), at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. The winner of that game advances to the reseeded semifinals.
The Lightning boast wins over Iowa City High, 23-20; Waterloo East, 14-10; Mid Prairie, 33-6; Clear Creek Amana, 28-21; Central DeWitt, 14-12; Davenport Assumption, 14-7; and Clinton, 56-0. Their two losses came at the hands of Washington, 38-21, and North Scott, 24-10.
The Lightning’s 14-12 week-eight triumph over Assumption catapulted their RPI rating, putting them in the Spartans’ crosshairs. The Lightning rushed their way to victory over Assumption with 213 yards on 53 carries with quarterback Drake Woody passing 1-1 for 50 yards in the hands of Ben Houselog. Max Tafolla was the go-to running back carrying the ball on 24 of the carries for 149 of their total yards.
The only other common foe for the Spartans and the Bolts, as the Lightning are often referred, was Washington, which defeated the Lightning, 38-31. The Bolts’ Woody was 8-17 in the loss, passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He hit Houselog just twice in the game for only 26 total yards but connected on a strike with Brian Lively once for 60 yards of their total. Liberty rushed 43 times in the game for 180 yards, 96 of which were courtesy of Tafolla. Washington found success against Liberty by completing 13 of 19 for 186 yards through the air and rushing the ball 34 times for 238 yards and five scores.
“Liberty is a well-coached team that plays extremely hard. I've been impressed with how sound they are fundamentally,” Coach Miller said. “Offensively they rush the ball very efficiently and effectively. Our defense must gear up to stop the run. Defensively they execute their system well and do give up big plays.”
Asked if there were emotions involved with the game in Fairfield, it being his son and quarterback Cam Miller’s last regular season game and being connected with this particular group of kids, Coach Miller appeared poised for the postseason after addressing the emotional aspect on Senior Night.
“Honestly I didn't ponder on it too much,” he said. “Senior Night was much more emotional for me personally and professionally.”
“I've tried not to think too much about it,” he continued. “I've attempted to be more in the moment. I've thoroughly enjoyed this season and the dynamics and personalities of this team. They are a joy to work with and they truly enjoy competing with one another.”
Article statistics courtesy of Quikstatsiowa.com Oct. 27.