The Early Lead: Young, resilient Rams squad shows potential
By BRANDON HURLEY
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Greene County outplayed Kuemper last week.
The Knights may have scored more points and converted more red zone opportunities, eventually pulling out he victory, but the Rams stood their own, against the fourth-ranked team in 2A.
The Jefferson squad piled up more yards (273 to 256) and dwarfed the Knights passing yardage (237 to 71) while wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball.
Visible progress was indeed spotted, at least by this reporter in week one. Heck, 14 points on opening night is a drastic improvement from last fall, in which the Rams put up a big fat goose egg in Carroll. If anything, that’s the first notch along the new journey.
And the opportunities were right there for Greene County as well. A dropped fourth down pass at the five yard line certainly could’ve been a touchdown, a muffed punt that reinvigorated the Kuemper offense and a late first half interception were just a few of the miscues that fueled Kuemper to victory.
A gritty, time consuming answer to start the second half was uncharacteristic of a Greene County squad. They had an answer when they needed it most. The drive was orchestrated beautifully by Clint Dennhardt, and when he went out for a technicality, sophomore Brent Riley came up clutch on third and goal. The resiliency the Rams showed was certainly impressive. In the end, the inexperience of the offense couldn’t muster up the win, but boy, were they close and did they ever keep it entertaining. This team, young and hungry, has a look to them, one that has really bought into the new coaching regime.
“We had the momentum on our side in the third quarter and we couldn’t sustain it,” Greene County head coach Mitch Moore said. “A program isn’t built overnight, and that’s part of it. That’s a good football team that we went toe-to-toe with. They certainly won the game, and but we made some mistakes that cost us the game.
Moore continued, “If you look over there, if they are the No. 4 team in (2A), then we feel pretty good as a program and where we are at.“
The thing that stood out to me was the defense. They created pressure and didn’t wear out.
The revamped coaching staff shone bright last week as well. The anxiety was clear, but communication was high and ideas were shared constantly. The coaches were seen interjecting into huddles, wrapping their arms around players and vigorously shouting criticisms and encouragement.
The week one matchup was Moore’s first game as a head coach at any level. The magnitude of it all came flooding over the coach as a new era at Greene County began.
“There were just so many things going through my head before the game and then so many emotions,” the coach said. “I had so many family members there. Which was just really neat for me and a lot of friends there. It was as neat an experience as I thought it would.”
The benchmarks for improvement are there – the Rams out gained their opponent, put points on the board, held possession of the ball and shook off a few deficits and back-breaking plays. The conditioning has improved as well. It may take some time for any physical evidence in the overall win column, but progress seemed a little ahead of schedule to me.
On to the picks….
B.J. Wright of Scranton won first place in week one of the Bee’s Football Contest, going 12-4. Four contestants tied for second with an 11-5 record, with Dana Fink of Perry coming out in second thanks to the tie-breaker. Dana predicted a total score of 729 points, which was just below the actual score of 783. Jefferson’s Dennis Ladd came in third, predicting a total score of 725.
I went 11-5 in week 1, it’s a winning record, so I’ll take it.
Here’s what I think will happen in week 2..
1. ADM at Ballard
Ballard shakes off a disappointing week one showing to thump ADM.
2. Aplington-Parkersburg at Iowa Falls-Alden
Aplington-Parkersburg is a power that eeks out a narrow one in Iowa Falls.
3. Boone at Bondurant-Farrar
The Blue Jays nab a nice victory at home.
4. Clear Lake at Webster City
The Lynx keep rolling in the regular season.
5. Gilbert at Carlisle
Carlisle, riding high off of last week’s victory, sneaks past Gilbert.
6. Harlan at Greene County
The Rams pick up their first win of the season in an impressive showing.
7. Pella at Dallas Center-Grimes
Pella just has a better program at this point, but it’s close.
8. Perry at Nevada
Nevada prevails at home.
9. Carroll at Bishop Heelan
That’s a long trip for an inexperienced Carroll team to make.
10. UNI at ISU
Iowa State avenges their ugly loss a year ago.
11. Wyoming at Iowa
The Hawks shake off a feisty Wyoming squad in the home-opener.
12. Michigan vs. Florida
Michigan is the better coached team.
13. Louisville vs. Purdue
Purdue is a dumpster fire right now.
14. Florida State vs. Alabama
Florida State pulls the upset and knocks off the mighty Crimson Tide.
15. BYU vs. LSU
Not entirely sure if this game is played, but the Tigers roll.
16. West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
Don’t know much about either team, but I think the Hokies squeak this one out.
17. Texas A&M at UCLA
UCLA has more talent and gets the victory.