Week 3 recap: TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
By Brandon Hurley
Even an odd blackout amidst a crisp fall evening couldn’t halt Colby Kafer’s assault on the Greene County record books.
When the chaotic dust finally settled on week 2, the senior tailback had re-written Ram history and kept a potentially magical season alive in a game for the ages. His lightning quick speed and exceptional vision carried the Rams to one of the most thrilling and unusual wins in recent memory.
Kafer tallied a Greene County school record 361 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the ‘Blackout game.’
The fifth-ranked Rams (2-0) fought back from a 30-minute delay, a blown three score lead and a three-point deficit to secure a nail-biting 42-41 victory over Nevada Sept. 6.
This particular road triumph had everything a football fan could ask for: comebacks and trick plays, lighting quick touchdown strikes and even a strange – and accidental – lighting malfunction.
Nevada (1-1) had clawed all the way back from an 18-point first half deficit and took their first lead of the game, 35-32 when the stadium went dark.
With not a single storm cloud in sight and a very light breeze blessing the night sky, the Nevada stadium lights went eerily dark with 4:28 left in the game.
Kafer’s electricity helped keep championships alive Friday. After the 30 minute delay and on just the second play, the tailback suddenly exploded down the center of the field, sprinting 57-yards for go-ahead touchdown.
The scoring jaunt was his fourth touchdown of the night, cementing the best rushing performance in school history, while simultaneously preventing a demoralizing non-district loss. Kafer broke his own school record he set back in 2017, when he ran for 285 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Iowa Falls-Alden.
Three of Kafer’s touchdowns last week came from more than 50-yards out, producing a ridiculous yards per carry average of 12.9 on 28 carries. He was a man among boys all night long, scampering into the end zone twice in the opening quarter.
Kafer scored Greene County’s only two second half touchdowns as well. He put the team on his back, pulling them out of their fourth quarter despair. But even his record-breaking night couldn’t shake the soft-spoken senior away from his natural ability to deflect praise.
“We’ve got a really good line,” Kafer said. “I didn’t get touched that much tonight at all. I just followed my blockers.”
While the Rams regained the lead late in the fourth quarter, 39-35, their work wasn’t finished. Cael Fisher connected on a 25-yard field goal to put Greene County up 42-35 with under a minute to play. That’s when even more chaos ensued.
Nevada connected on a wicked “hook and ladder” pass play a few moments later, which led to a 66-yard touchdown with 19 seconds remaining.
With the Cubs now trailing 42-41, they elected to go for two and the win. But Greene County was ready, and snuffed out the ensuing run play, preserving the wild victory.
“We overcame that adversity that struck and that’s a good thing,” Kafer said.
The week two win wasn’t a perfect game by any means. The defense showed several concerning cracks while the offense struggled to take care of the ball at times. The Rams turned it over three times, each of which led to a Nevada touchdown. The Cubs flipped their field position drastically on a pair of occasions, with scoring drives starting on the Rams’ four yard line and the 29 yard line.
Greene County had sprinted out to a 25-7 lead before Nevada’s furious rally kicked into high gear. They went on to out-score the Rams 28-7 over the next quarter and a half, taking control of the game. Quarterback Kody Kruschwitz and company had little trouble navigating the suddenly suspect Greene County defense. The Cubs converted several fourth down tries and methodically controlled the pace of the game. They even forced yet another turnover deep in their own territory, picking off an errant fourth down pass and returning it more than 50 yards. The Cubs would later score on the ensuing drive, taking their first lead of the game.
The struggling defense is a bit of a concern, Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said. The Rams were fresh off holding Perry to 35 total yards and a goose egg a week prior. They were poised to have another strong showing before it all seemed to unravel. The Cubs scored 27 second half points in addition to 362 total yards, including 168 yards on the ground.
The initial fix starts with strength and conditioning. The original 11 starters seem strong as is, but it’s those second and third string guys that need to step up, the coach said.
“We’re going to have to develop more depth,” Duncan said. “When our starters were in, they didn’t move the ball on us. As soon as we started cramping and had a couple injuries, they started moving the ball on us and we couldn’t figure it out.
Some of it was because some of the newer guys were a little timid. We have to develop the depth. It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we have to rise to the occasion. And we have to play within our system, too, it’s not just backyard football.”
Kafer’s electric Friday night performance is the best single-game rushing performance in the state of Iowa this year, 18 yards better than Waterloo West’s Isaac Tolbert, who compiled 343 yards in a 40-point win over Mason City.
The fact Kafer shattered the school record in a back-and-forth contest is that much more a testament to his raw skill. He didn’t fade away from the spotlight, he merely seized the moment and took control. The senior also returned a kick-off 66 yards to put the Rams in great field position in the first half. With that long return, Kafer ended up with 427 total yards from scrimmage, one of the most remarkable stat lines in school history.
“Colby was very, very good at reading his blocks,” Duncan said. “He ran very hard and obviously, Colby is fast. But the line did a good job, too. There weren’t very many times where people were leaking through and hitting him in the backfield.
It was a combination of the line doing a very good job and Colby just using his his amazing skills to just have a great night.”
Kafer boasts the state’s highest yards per carry average among high school backs with at least 20 carries, regardless of class (14.9 ypc).
Greene County hasn’t produced a 1,000 yard rusher since Daric Whipple’s senior year back in 2015 when the Iowa State walk-on rushed for 1,101 yards and 14 touchdowns and a dual-threat quarterback. Kafer is certainly well on his way with seven games remaining.
Thanks to Kafer’s two week tear, he’s now the all-time leading rusher in Greene County’s consolidated history with 1,971 yards. Whipple was the previous record-holder with 1,635 yards in his three seasons as a Ram starter from 2013-15. He currently holds the rushing touchdown record with 22 scores.
Wide receiver Carter Morton had yet another stellar game last week, opening the scoring in Nevada with a nifty 45 yard catch and run, juking a pair of Nevada defenders. He ended the night with 120 yards on three catches. Will Hansen also snagged a first half touchdown on a beautiful corner fade from Riley. The senior finished the game with five catches for 55 yards while Nick Breon added 63 yards on four catches.
Brent Riley tallied 252 yards passing to go with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hansen led the Rams in tackles with 10 while Bradyn Smith recored nine tackles of his own. Breon and Smith led Class 2A, District 9 with 12.5 tackles each.
Greene County is next in action Friday, Sept. 13 as they host Saydel (0-2) at 7 p.m. in Jefferson.