Week 7 Recap: SUFFOCATING DEFENSE
By BRANDON HURLEY
The district’s top rushing attack stood little chance against an inspired Greene County defense.
The fourth-ranked Rams continued dominance without the ball is nearly as spectacular as their record-setting offense.
Three goose eggs in seven games really is the stuff of legends.
Last week’s triumph was just another notch on an increasingly crowded belt.
The undefeated Greene County Rams inched even closer to a perfect regular season with 26-0 shutout over Atlantic, securing the best start for a Jefferson football team since 2007.
Greene County (7-0, 3-0) charged out to a 20-0 halftime lead, and proceeded to keep things in control the remainder of the way. Atlantic tallied just 151 total yards and a mere 77 yards on the ground. The Rams limited Class 2A’s leading rusher, Tyler Moen (1, 066) to just 75 yards on 26 carries, a pedestrian average of 2.9 yards per carry.
Greene County quarterback Brent Riley continued his elite production, throwing for 226 yards and four touchdowns, each to a different receiver. As a team, the Rams tallied 352 total yards.
The victory was not flashy by any means, but Atlantic never really stood a chance. Greene County built a 13-0 first quarter lead before scoring once more in the second. A third quarter touchdown connection between Riley and Jaxon Warnke sealed the deal. Despite the efficient showing, Greene County head coach Caden Duncan knew it wasn’t a perfect victory.
“It was a good win, but we felt like we could have played better, especially offensively,” the coach said. “We need to finish drives better and take advantage of our opportunities. Staying focused and executing our assignments with more consistency will help that immensely.”
Atlantic entered the week seven contest averaging 183 rushing yards and nearly two rushing TDs per game. But Greene County, winners of seven straight, produced another valiant performance behind a Rams defense that has been on a tear as of late. They’ve allowed just 7.2 points per game over the last five contests, a streak that includes not a single team cracking the 100-yard rushing mark.
“We were very aggressive on the defensive side of the ball and completely shut down their offense, which included one of the state’s leading rushers,” Duncan said. “On offense, we were in a good rhythm early on and had multiple guys make plays.”
Colby Kafer rushed for 72 yards on 24 carries, pushing himself over the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career, becoming the first Ram to achieve such a total since 2015.
Carter Morton yet again was Greene County’s leading receiver, hauling in seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Will Hansen snagged six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, his third straight game with a touchdown catch. The senior has now hauled in five TD grabs, placing him fourth in district 9.
Nick Breon and Jaxon Warnke also pulled in touchdown catches during the week 7 victory,
Morton is second in D-9 behind OA-BCIG’s Jake Nieman with nine touchdown grabs while he is atop the district with 693 receiving yards. Those totals are fourth and third, respectively in 2A.
The Rams are off to a blistering 7-0 start for the first time since the 2007 Jefferson-Scranton/P-C squad won their first seven games. J-S/P-C lost their week eight contest that year to Kuemper Catholic (20-7) before bouncing back with a triumph in the season finale.
Greene County (7-0, 3-0) is just two games from a perfect regular season, enjoying a 10 game regular season winning streak dating back to September of 2018.
Just two opponents have managed to score more than seven points against the vaunted Ram defense - Nevada scored 41 in week two while Kuemper Catholic scored 22 points last week. Greene County is allowing a ridiculously solid 11 points per game through seven weeks.
The story was no different in the Rams’ road victory Oct. 11, securing four turnovers, improving to 3-0 in district nine play.
Five of their seven gridiron foes have scored seven points or less. It’s a remarkable streak for a defense that doesn’t necessarily have any eye-popping standouts. That’s not to say the defense isn’t loaded with talent. Oh, quite the contrary. Seven athletes have recorded at least 10 tackles while Will Hansen (38.5 tackles), Nick Breon (34.5) and Bradyn Smith (29) have each tallied more than 25 takedowns. It’s a ball-hawking defense as well. Six Rams have snagged an interception, while four athletes have at least two interceptions. As a team, Greene County has produced 10 interceptions - which ranks them fourth in Class 2A - in addition to six fumble recoveries, good for 16 total takeaways.
The Greene County offense continues to support the red-hot defense as well. The Rams are ranked seventh in 2A with a 396 yards per game average. They are fourth in scoring at 41.7 points per game, having scored 34 total touchdowns. Riley continues his spectacular senior campaign as well, improving his passing totals to 1,565 yards (sixth in 2A) and 23 touchdowns (t-2nd) against just three interceptions. Riley’s fourth TD last week surpassed his 2018 total of 22 passing touchdowns. He has at least two games left to push that remarkable total even higher.
As a whole, the Greene County program has won 15 of their last 16 regular season games. Greene County last started 8-0 back in 2006, which was the last time a Jefferson-based high school reached the UNI Dome.
Greene County takes aim at a spotless home record and another step closer to perfection when they host Red Oak (0-7) in the home finale Friday at 7 p.m.