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Playoff Games Thin Ranks Of Local Teams

By Staff | Nov 5, 2009

ALMOST?GOT?IT - Emmetsburg’s Nick Leewright tries to deflect a pass by South Winneshiek’s Jared Holien during play in Monday’s First-Round playoff game with the Warriors. Emmetsburg would see their post season trail cut short in a 40-6 loss to the Warriors, which ended the E’Hawks’ season with a 10-1 record. -- Dan Voigt photo

For 24 games, Emmetsburg’s E’Hawks have know the “Thrill of Victory” while their opponents have known “The Agony of Defeat”, an expression dating back to the 1960’s. Sadly, those words have a more personal meaning for the E’Hawks after they were eliminated from the 2009 Post Season in a 40-6 loss to South Winneshiek Monday night.

Despite the loss, Emmetsburg closes out a solid season with a perfect mark in district play, as well as their second consecutive District Championship with a 10-1 mark overall.

But yet, the loss hurts.

For the players who dreamed of defending their Class 1A state title, there is a sense of emptiness – especially for the senior members of Coach Mike Dunlap’s squad.

Monday’s first-round matchup was a complete opposite of the 2008 meeting of the Warriors and the E’Hawks in the post season, a meeting in which Emmetsburg claimed a 54-20 victory.

Such would not be the case on Monday night, however.

It turned into a long night for the E’Hawks as South Winneshiek’s spread offense worked to near-perfection, creating mis-matches for the E’Hawks on both offense and defense, and stymied Emmetsburg’s offense at nearly every step of the way.

The E’Hawks took the opening kick off and muffed the return, starting at their own 26 yard line, and would work out to a fourth and four at the 33 yard line before being forced to punt.

The Warriors would take over at their 48 yard line and quickly used their spread offense to keep the E’Hawks guessing. The Warriors would string together a nice drive down to Emmetsburg’s 17 yard line, and would suddenly face a third and 10 at the 17 with 6:03 to go in the quarter. A pass would quickly bring South Winneshiek to the one yard line, and with 5:48 to go in the quarter, Dakota Smith bulled in from a yard out for the first score of the night. Jordan Andera would run the ball in for the conversion version and the Warriors held an 8-0 lead.

The E’Hawks would take over after the kick at their own 29 yard line, but once again, were forced into a three-and-out situation, punting on fourth and seven with 3:04 to go in the quarter.

South Winneshiek took over at their 27 and would be forced to punt the ball back to the E’Hawks. The catch was muffed, but Emmetsburg recovered and got the ball at their own 25 yard line, only to stall and go nowhere, setting up a punt that ended the quarter with South Winneshiek at their own 43 yard line, holding an 8-0 lead over the E’Hawks.

The Warriors mounted a drive to start the second quarter, marching down field against the E’Hawks’ best efforts, and with 10:40 to go in the half, Logan Einck caught a 15-yard pass for a score, and then caught the conversion for a 16-0 lead over the E’Hawks.

Emmetsburg took over at their own 30 on the resulting kick, and through some determined hard running by Joey Naig, got its first down of the contest at the 49 yard line with 9:36 to play in the half. With things starting to look positive for the E’Hawks, a holding penalty snuffed out a gain and backed Emmetsburg up to the 40, and the E’Hawks went in reverse from there, being forced to punt on fourth and 25.

The Warriors would take over and drive to the E’Hawk 35, but a fumble recovered by Andera would back them up 11 yards. The miscue would result in a punt that Emmetsburg fielded at its own 10 yard line with 3:03 to go in the half.

Quarterback Corey Schultes tried to rally the E’Hawks out of their own territory, and a pass attempt was intercepted at the Warriors’ 40 yard line by Logan Einck and returned back to the E’Hawks’ 41 yard line.

With 1:16 to go in the half, South Winneshiek struck again, off a nine yard reception by Andera. The conversion try failed, giving the Warriors a 22-0 lead as the E’Hawks were looking for a spark of some kind to fire up their effort.

Emmetsburg would get the ball and tried to mount another drive, aided by a late hit penalty against the Warriors, but the drive would stall and end in a punt that ended the half with the 22-0 deficit for the E’Hawks.

South Winneshiek got the ball to start the second half, but would have their possession end in a punt. The E’Hawks took over at their own 37 yard line, only to be held to three downs and a punt. The punt took a huge Emmetsburg bounce, putting the Warriors at their own 14 yard line.

The Warriors drove out of the hole, however, and marched downfield, capping off the 86 yard drive with a 28 yard reception by Einck with 6:29 to go in the third frame. The conversion failed, making the score 28-0.

Emmetsburg would take over once again, and Joey Naig began picking up some yardage, but bad luck bit the E’Hawks again as Naig fumbled the ball at the Warriors’ 45 yard line and South Winneshiek recovered the ball with 6:11 to go in the quarter.

The E’Hawks did their best to keep the Warriors in check, and managed a sack of quarterback Jared Holien that set up a punt by the Warriors.

The two teams would trade possessions and punts through the end of the third quarter, but Emmetsburg would end the quarter on a down note, fumbling the football on their own seven yard line and watching the Warriors recover it at the six yard line to end the quarter.

On the first snap of the fourth frame, Andera would catch a seven yard screen pass for the score with 11:48 to go in the game. The conversion failed, giving South Winneshiek a 34-0 lead.

The E’Hawks would take over after the score at their own 13 yard line. This time, the E’Hawks managed to string together a drive, buoyed by a 47 yard scamper by Joey Naig that brought the football to the Warriors’ 13 yard line. With a first down inside the red zone, the E’Hawks put together a drive that capped off with 8:49 to go as Tommy Kuecker burst into the end zone with an 11 yard reception of a Schultes pass for the score. Ben McCain hit the conversion kick, but a procedure penalty backed the E’Hawks up five yards and forced another conversion try. This time, the kick drifted left and wide, forcing the E’Hawks to settle for the 34-6 tally.

South Winneshiek would recover Emmetsburg’s onside kick attempt at their own 40 yard line, and marched downfield, facing a fourth and two at the five yard line and ending up with a first and goal at the two yard stripe. Brady Severson would bull in from the two yard line with 2:41 to go in the game for the final score, as the conversion failed, giving South Winneshiek the 40-6 margin of victory.

As the clock ran out, the E’Hawks quietly congratulated their opponents and waited at midfield for the presentation of the qualifiers’ trophy. The trophy was lifted for the E’Hawk fans by the players, who quietly walked from the field as their season ended.

The E’Hawks would come up with 188 yards rushing offense in the contest and just 16 yards of passing offense for 204 total yards, while South Winneshiek racked up 144 rushing yards and 174 passing yards for 318 total offensive yards in the win.

Joey Naig would run the ball 24 times for 129 yards, while Tommy Kuecker added 11 carries for 48 yards.

Cory Schultes completed three of nine passes for the 16 yards with one interception. Kuecker would catch two of the passes for a total of 20 yards and the E’Hawks’ lone touchdown. Eric Pelzer would lead the defense with 19 tackles in the effort.

One telling statistic in South Winneshiek’s domination of the game was in first downs – The E’Hawks managed eight first downs, all through rushing, while the Warriors had 15 first downs; 11 from rushing, three through passes and one by penalty.

For the E’Hawks, the season comes to a close for seniors Matt Ballman, Nate Brown, Joey Naig, Tommy Kuecker, Nick Leewright, Jake Morris, Eric Pelzer, Chris Kollasch, Chris Olson, Howard Henkelvig, Andy Wuebker, Ben Pelzer, John Ruddy and Phil Brown.