Warrior football team stifled in 67-8 loss

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Warrior quarterback Elliot Kelly takes a snap from center Ryan Schroeder. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Evan Schroeder returns a kick in Central’s Sept. 3 loss at Easton Valley.

Offensive guard Brandon Whittle protects the Central quarterback.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central football team suffered a tough 67-8 loss against Easton Valley on Friday night. The first quarter set the tone for the game, as the River Hawks piled up 35 points with a stifling defense, efficient offense and a special teams unit that produced two touchdowns. 


Heading into the game, there was some concern over the River Hawk passing attack, which led Central head coach Joe Koehn to have the team work on zone defense and trying to find ways to put more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. 


“I expect them to pass the ball a lot, but we’ve been working on our assignments, so as long as we stick to them I’m confident we’ll have success,” Koehn said prior to the game. 


It was a plan that seemingly worked, as the River Hawks passing attack was held to just 96 yards and four touchdowns, down significantly from the previous week. The Warrior defense also held the River Hawks to 117 yards rushing, but allowed four touchdowns in the process. 


While the numbers don’t jump off the paper, Easton Valley executed a quality over quantity offense that totaled touchdowns despite the lack of yardage. The Warriors, who put forth tremendous effort, could not stem the offensive tide. 


The Central defense accumulated 24 tackles and an interception by Evan Schroeder, who picked off the River Hawks’ backup quarterback, but they finished the game with zero sacks and just one tackle for a loss. Elliot Kelly led the team in tackles with 9.5, followed by Brandon Whittle with 3, Sean Wilwert with 2.5 and Noah Diersen with 2.5. 


Prior to the game, Koehn responded to a question about how to slow down Easton Valley’s defense. 


“We talked to our linemen and ends about who to leave for the kick out and who not to. They play a tight defense, which we think can work into our favor,” he said. 


But as the game progressed, the Warrior offense had no answer for the River Hawk defense, which amassed 66.5 tackles—17 of which were for a loss—along with two sacks and two interceptions. 


The Warrior offense was held in check in the passing game, as Kelly and Schroeder threw two interceptions and completed just four of 15 passes for 78 yards, most of which occurred on the 58-yard touchdown pass to Nick Dietchler in the fourth quarter. 


It was the running game that was really stymied, finishing the game with -31 yards on 29 attempts. The Central running backs averaged -1.1 yards per carry with no touchdowns. Schroeder led the team with 20 yards on 11 carries, but the River Hawk defense smothered Kelly, who ran 13 times for -55 yards. Kelly did convert a two-point conversion on the touchdown. 


Part of the offense’s struggles were, in part, from Easton’s blitz. 


“They just sent a lot of blitzes and we were unable to pick them up. We need to work on moving our feet and staying with our blocks. We’ll be working on picking up blitzes and maintaining our blocks this week,” Koehn said. 


On special teams, the Warriors punted nine times and received eight kickoffs, which they ran back for a total of 162 yards. Schroeder and Wilwert averaged 20.3 yards per return. 


But the special teams unit also gave up two touchdowns, one on a 92-yard punt return and the other on a 68-yard kickoff return. 


Koehn commented, “we didn’t stay in our lanes when covering kickoffs and punts. Also, breaking down at the point of tackles. We have to be able to make open field tackles.” 


As for the game itself, Koehn discussed the team’s effort after the first quarter and the work team captains and coaches need to do to keep the team focused and fighting until the game is over. 


“It truly shows what kind of kids you have when you’re down like that. Do you keep fighting and find ways to get better or do you give up and quit? I think, overall effort, we did a decent job,” said Koehn. “We just can’t give up when the going gets tough, regardless of the circumstances. That’s where football teaches you some of its greatest lessons, those tough ones that are hard to endure. Just need to move on and get ready for the next one.” 


The 1-1 Warriors look to get back on track Sept. 10, in the homecoming game against 0-3 Calamus-Wheatland. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. 

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