Week 4 recap: Business as usual
By Brandon Hurley
A surgically precise opening frame told the triumphant tale of Greene County’s latest blowout.
Two of the fifth-ranked Rams three wins this fall have come by more than 40 points, allowing the Class 2A, District 9 squad to flaunt their potential.
Winless Saydel was Greene County’s latest foe, using a 35-point first quarter to thrash its way to a 48-7 victory Sept. 13 in Jefferson.
A quick-hitting offense and a suffocating defense played key roles during the Rams’ triumph, improving to 3-0 after scoring more than 40 points for the third straight week.
The struggling defense regained its bulletproof confidence a week after surrendering 41 points in a win over Nevada, holding the Eagles to less than 100 yards of offense and just a single touchdown.
The remarkable balance Ram fans have come to expect over the last two years was on display yet again as well.
GCHS quarterback Brent Riley and company kept chugging along at a record pace on offense producing 48 first half points and seven touchdowns, locking up victory well before the final horn.
Records fell at an alarming rate Friday as a pair of Ram seniors broke four school records en route to victory.
Greene County’s scoring came early and often, letting fly a 31-yard touchdown pass from Riley to Will Hansen just a minute and a half into the game.
Riley was nearly flawless in limited action, completing eight of nine passes for 123 yards and four touchdowns. Half of his completions went for scores in a remarkably efficient showing as he scrambled for big gains, kept plays alive and showed incredible precision, even on the run. The senior has thrown for the fifth most touchdowns in 2A so far this year (8 TDs), tallying 506 passing yards at a clip of 63 percent.
He now has thrown for 34 career touchdowns and 3,186 yards, both Greene County school records, surpassing 2016 graduate Daric Whipple’s marks of 3,125 yards and 29 passing touchdowns.
Greene County’s Carter Morton returned two punts for a touchdown Friday, becoming the Rams’ single-season and career record holder with three return scores. The senior leads the entire state, across all classes in return touchdowns, punt return yards (279), and yards per return (39.9).
Jaxon Warnke caught two passes for touchdowns while Will Hansen and Morton each hauled in a touchdown catch as well. Running back Colby Kafer ran for 71 yards and a score in limited action, carrying the ball just seven times for a yards per carry average of 10.1. The skill positions were on full display throughout.
“Our explosiveness was pretty apparent,” Greene County head coach Caden Duncan said. “The line was doing a good job. Brent was really in a good rhythm. He was really, really sharp.”
The Rams tallied just 267 yards, mostly in the first half in which they scored seven offensive touchdowns. The Rams are averaging 390 yards per game, which ranks them ninth in Class 2A while they produce points at an average of 48 points per game, alone in fourth in the state.
Placekicker Cael Fisher was a perfect six-for-six on point PATs and produced two touchbacks on eight kickoffs. The senior has converted on a District 9-best 15 PATs on 15 tries this season, which is tied for second most in Class 2A.
Week three’s quick start can be attributed to a focus Duncan had harped on all week. Saydel entered last Friday’s contest at 0-2, struggling to put up points. The head coach did not want his guys to overlook their outmatched opponents. The Rams rewarded their coach’s efforts with a resounding victory.
“I thought our guys were locked in from the beginning,” Duncan said. “That really helped us have a good rhythm.”
Greene County’s defensive breakout was key, too. The Eagles struggled to get even past the line of scrimmage, rarely completing a first down. Jackson Morton hauled in a first quarter interception while Yerson Salvin also snagged a turnover. Nick Breon led the Rams in tackles with four tackles while Gage Michaelsen came away with a team-high 1.5 sacks. The Rams held a commanding 48-0 lead at the break.
“We were reading our keys a lot better then we were in Nevada, obviously,” Duncan said. “It helped us be a little more fresh. We didn’t have guys getting as tired as we did in the second half against Nevada. We were being really aggressive. Guys were making the correct reads and going out and making plays.”
Kafer is averaging 13.9 yards per carry to go with seven touchdowns this fall. He’s rushed for 611 yards, falling to second in Class 2A after light usage last week. Oelwein’s Gage Voshell leads the state with 627 yards and eight touchdowns on 83 carries. To compare, Kafer has carried the rock just 44 times in three games.
A veteran offensive line has not only provided substantial holes for Kafer, but they’ve also allowed Riley to take his time in the pocket, giving him a chance to find the correct read. The line has really come together in the first few weeks, Duncan said.
“There’s a lot of cohesiveness between them. (Iowa State commit) Tyler Miller’s kind of taken the bull by the horns and tried to be the leader,” the coach said. “Gage Michaelsen, Brandon Hoyle and Cole Betts, all seniors, have done a really good job. Then we’ve had Joe Patterson and Mason Stream both working in there a little bit at different times. They’re both doing a good job.
Duncan continued, “(The offensive line) is really cohesive, they push each other and practice. They’re always working hard. They kind of know what the guy next to him is going to be doing at all times.”
Greene County hosts Gilbert (2-1) in the final round of non-district play at 7 p.m. Friday in Jefferson.