Cheers, high-fives, hugs, and even few tears of joy could even be seen on the field. This game meant that much to the Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks who, after suffering through the tough times of a …
Cheers, high-fives, hugs, and even few tears of joy could even be seen on the field. This game meant that much to the Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks who, after suffering through the tough times of a 1-and-8 season last year, found not only self-respect, but also the respect of their peers in winning six games and finishing the season tied for third in the conference.
The Hawks celebrated a 14-3 win over Clear Creek-Amana last Friday in a game where the departing seniors left with their heads held high and the underclassmen excited for next season.
The final season record was just short of the team’s goal of the playoffs, however the players and coaches knew that they had come a long way from a year ago.
“One-and-eight sucked,” said senior fullback Levi Kelley. “Six-and-three is a lot better. It’s not really where we wanted to be, but it’s a lot better.”
Last week, the Hawks had guaranteed themselves a winning season, however a mere 5-and-4 record would have been a hollow testament to what had been an excellent season.
“Coach said there is a big difference between a 5-and-4 team and a 6-and-3 team” said senior running back Mike Huston. “That really sums it up. We knew when coming into this game that we didn’t want to be 5-and-4, we wanted to be 6-and-3.”
“Six-and-three sounds a lot better than five-and-four; that almost sounds like a losing season. We didn’t meet all of our goals, but three wins in a row to end the season is a lot to build on for next year,” Mid-Prairie coach Mark Dalton said.
After the game, both Kelley and Huston gave credit to the coaches for bringing about the change in the Mid-Prairie football program.
“It’s a big improvement,” Huston said. “We got Coach Dalton here and that really changed some attitudes. We knew all along that we could do it, it was just a matter of getting the players to change their attitudes and getting some guys in the weight room. We have always had the talent, but now we have finally put it all together and we will be a great team.”
“The future will be bright,” Kelley said.
Dalton expressed his thanks to the coaching staff, Shawn Kreman, Jeff Murphy, Jason Dumont, Pete Cavanagh, and Doug Koerperich, who have invested just as much time as the players in bringing about this winning season.
“We really coach by committee,” Dalton said. “I really don’t have a lot to do with the defense—they run things by me but I tell them to do whatever they needed to do. Last year we had only two coaches with the varsity, this year we have five working with the kids by position.
“The whole thing is about having some fun and this was a real fun year, for the coaches and the kids.”
The game was billed as a classic struggle between the stingy Clippers defense and the Hawks high-powered offense. However, it was the Mid-Prairie defense that was shining on Friday, allowing the Clippers only 192 yards of total offense and keeping their opponents from crossing the goal line. The rest was left up to the Hawks’ running game which racked up 211 yards, scoring the go-ahead touchdown and keeping possession of the ball as the clock wound down.
The first half was an offensive stalemate as neither team was able to enter the red zone. The two teams opened the half by trading three-and-outs and then fumbles. The Hawks’ defense, led by the big plays of Brad Litwiller and Brian Hervey, allowed the Clippers only to the 35 yard line. Mid-Prairie faired no better, getting only to the 29 before penalties and incomplete passes stalled out their best drive of the half.
The only score of the first 24 minutes came when a Clippers cornerback bumped Adam Kos out of the way of a Seth Fisher pass, intercepting the ball and giving CC-A possession on their 31. The Clippers then advanced the ball to the Mid-Prairie 15 where the Clippers’ Nathan Fedde put a field goal through the uprights to close out the half 3-0.
The Hawks took the ball at the opening of the second half and began a pounding ground attack, running Adam Kos, Levi Kelley, and Mike Huston down the throats at the Clippers defense. Mid-Prairie started at their 30 and drove to the CC-A 21 yard line where they then fell short on a 4th-and-4 play.
But the Mid-Prairie defense was still in form, holding the Clippers to three-and-out and giving the offense the ball on their 45. Fisher connected with Brent Showalter on a long pass that gave the Hawks 1st-and-10 on the Clippers 19. Kos then ran to the 2 for 1st-and-goal. The Hawks moved the ball to the one, then a penalty pushed them back to the six yard line. On third down, Kos followed the lead block of Brian Hervey to the two, then across the goal line on fourth down. Mitch Raber’s point-after was good, giving the Hawks the lead at 7-3 in the third quarter.
The Mid-Prairie defense stuffed the Clippers again and again the Hawks’ offense started a drive from their 45 and again the running trio of Kos, Kelley, and Huston ran the ball toward the goal. The drive was in danger of stalling out on 4th-and-4 from the CC-A 31, but Fisher gained the necessary yardage for the first down running right on a bootleg. After another five-yard procedure penalty put the ball back on the 25, Kos ran up the middle, then bounced outside to gain 12 yards. On the following play, Fisher connected with end Chad Showalter running up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Raber’s PAT was again good, making the score 14-3.
As the minutes ran down in the fourth quarter, Clear Creek-Amana went to the air, moving the ball from their 34 to the Mid-Prairie 34, then to the 25, and then to the 12. But the Hawks would allow no more as the Clippers twice made the mistake of throwing cornerback Tyrell Gingerich’s side of the field where he broke up two pass plays, including one in the end zone on fourth down.
With the turnover on downs, the Hawks tried to run out the clock but were stymied. Mid-Prairie was forced to punt from their 18, but the Clippers made a crucial mistake, taking down the punter Kos and garnering a roughing-the-kicker foul. With a fresh set of downs, the Hawks kept the ball on the ground, moving up-field and burning time off the clock. A quarterback sneak by Fisher and two strong runs by Huston moved the chains and ran out the clock, giving the Hawks the 6-and-3 season.
“During the second half, the kids did exactly what they needed to do to win the ball game,” Dalton said. “We ran the ball which ran out the clock on them and when they had their opportunities to score we kept them out of the end zone. It seemed like in the first half things were sloppy, but in the second half we played really well offensively and defensively.”
Sophomore Adam Kos led all rushers by recording 89 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown. Senior Mike Huston racked up 65 yards on 11 carries, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Senior Levi Kelley rushed the ball 10 times for 57 yards.
“Mike Huston had a great game running and Kelly and Kos did a nice job,” Dalton said. “We ran more than I ever wanted to do in a ball game, but you have to do what you need to in order to win the game, and our kids did a nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage and a heck of a job blocking. It was a good game for us all around.”
Kelley agreed that credit for the run and credit for the win should go to the Hawks front line.
“You can give this to the big boys up front—Jared Freel, Brian Hervey, Brad Litwiller, Jeff Gingerich, Brad Yotty, Derek Yoder—you can’t run the ball without the line,” Kelley said.
Seth Fisher was 5-for-18 for 95 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the passing game. Nick Luke caught two for 35 yards while Brent Showalter caught one for 32 yards. Chad Showalter had two receptions for 28 yards, including his 13-yard touchdown reception.
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