Tigers get physical in win at Treynor
It took 1 minute, 9 seconds for the Red Oak Tigers to make a statement and stake themselves a 6-0 lead at Treynor Friday night.
“It was huge,” Tigers coach Barry Bower said of the opening drive. “We challenged our interior front after last week. We didn’t play the physical style of football we thought we could play (against Southwest Valley). They saw. And they rose to the occasion. They said, ‘Coach, we didn’t play so well.’ That gave them the fire and determination. We just played simple smash-mouth football tonight.”
And so the Tigers did, bruising the Cardinals, mostly between the tackles, for 360 yards on 49 rushes. Senior Connor Johnson toted it 20 times for 194 yards and a TD. Senior Will West lugged it 13 times for 105 yards, giving Red Oak two 100-yard rushers in the same game, something that hasn’t happened for quite some time.
Bower noted the work of senior Ryker Connell at left tackle, sophomore Jackson Welter at left guard, senior Dakota McMann at center, sophomore Garrett Rolenc at right guard, and sophmore Colton Kinnson at right tackle.
“We also two-platooned a little bit with our offensive line and our defensive line and I think that helped us out a considerable amount,” the coach said.
Defensively, the Tigers made big plays all night, and there were two key series of possessions in the first half.
Treynor drove to the Red Oak 18 yard line halfway through the first quarter, but the Tigers got a big tackle for loss and the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth-and-18. The Cardinals got the ball back after a punt and moved into Tigers’ territory again, but a sack on fourth-and-eight gave Red Oak the ball at Treynor’s 48. Two plays later, Red Oak was in the end zone. West went for 23 yards on first down, then 25 more on the next play. Fernando Rivera’s kick from a perfect snap and hold resulted in a 13-0 lead.
Late in the first half, Treynor, behind its all-purpose quarterback Trey Castle, moved the Cardinals 57 yards to a first-and-10 at the Red Oak 15 yard line. Treynor was in rhythm. Coach Bower called a time out to talk to the defense. On the next play, sophomore Isaac Bower tipped a Castle pass and senior Carlos Guerra picked it off, ending the last best threat of the night for Treynor. Red Oak drove the ball 59 yards to the Treynor 36 before the half ended.
Castle got loose several times in the first half, putting the defense on its heels. He finished 8-14 passing for 89 yards and carried the ball 23 times for 56 yards, paltry statistics compared to the way he played and the threat he presented. But part of the statistical result was a change by Red Oak at the half.
“Trey Castle is a good athlete. When you have a dual-threat quarterback like that, you have to make sure you rush and contain, so we put a little bit of a spy there and went to a little bit of a different coverage and did really well,” Bower said.
The defense set the tone to start that second half. Treynor had a first down at its own 43, but sophomore Codie Bentley sacked Castle for a nine-yard loss on third down. On fourth down, Treynor snapped the ball over the punter’s head and the ball went all the way to the three yard line for a loss of 41 yards, putting the Tigers in business with a first-and-goal. West scored on a three-yard run and Rivera’s kick made it 20-0 just 1:26 into the second half.
Among others, big plays on defense included senior Christian Terry deflecting a screen pass, Bower tackling a Cardinal runner and forcing a fumble, and the interception of a screen pass by senior Brandon Flathers.
“I think one of the things we tried to stress to our kids is bend, but don’t break. I think you saw that a couple of times. We had a tipped pass and a pick. That was huge. I think it was 13-0 and it could easily have went 13-7, and we just kind of said, we’re going to play with some confidence a little bit. I think this is a defense that believes in what we are doing. We’ve ran this defense for four years since I’ve been here and it takes a while to get accustomed to it, and our kids are accustomed to it.”
Bower led the team with eight tackles. West had 7.5 and Guerra had seven. Bentley had 4.5; followed by senior Hunter Woods with four; Flathers, sophomore Hunter McMann, and Terry with three each; sophomore Isaac Birt with two; sophomore Carter Bruce and Welter with 1.5 each; and senior Ryan Lundgren and sophomore Cam Vanderhoof with one each.
Treynor finished with 93 yards rushing on 36 tries, but the 41-yard loss on the bad punt snap dropped the total to 52. The Cardinals had 141 yards of total offense.
Red Oak’s last score of the night was a 28-yard run by Johnson, which capped an 82-yard drive with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers drove deep into Treynor territory in the final minutes, but finished the game taking a snap in victory formation at the Cardinals’ 15 yard line.
That first drive?
Johnson ran for 43 yards and West for 32 more behind that energized front. But it was quarterback Guerra who cashed the TD, scoring on a one-yard sneak.
Guerra was 2-10 passing for 28 yards, and had 14 yards on six carries. Bower had 46 yards on nine carries and Bentley had a carry for a yard. Birt had a reception for 14 yards and senior Mario Lepe had a reception for 14 yards.
“I’ve got to give credit to my staff,” Bower concluded. “They did a remarkable job of preparing for today, and really getting our kids ready. And I challenged myself this week, that we had to get back on the winning track.”