Football: Jays spoil Pioneers' homecoming
Okoboji couldn't fully take advantage of a fresh start after reconvening a homecoming showdown with Gehlen Catholic Saturday morning due to an impending storm, falling 27-0 despite compiling more total yards in the second half of a game that kicked off Friday night.
"Jordan Hanna and Jacob Dodge switched spots (from quarterback to receiver) in the second half," said Okoboji coach Jon Allen. "We thought we could get Jordan on some of those slants. We were moving the ball and Jake was able to tuck it and go a few times, but we struck ourselves in the foot a few times with penalties. It was fun to move the ball but it seems like that's something that we've been doing whether it's a penalty or some mental breakdown that keeps us out of the end zone. We have to get after it and smell that end zone, we can't think they're going to give us the score but make sure that we earn it."
With the storm bearing down on the Iowa Great Lakes from the south, the Jays got out to a hot start offensively, scoring 21 unanswered points in the first quarter to take a commanding lead.
"The first quarter was the worst that we've played the past couple years," Allen said. "We tried to spy (Gehlen quarterback) Blake (Wiltgen) with a linebacker because he was gaining most of their yards and we just couldn't get it done. We weren't quick enough to keep them in the backfield. We did have some kids make some plays, but that was our worst quarter. We finally settled down and started to move the ball close to halftime there, but again an interception kept us from completing a drive."
Lucas Hunt scored the first Gehlen touchdown on a 23-yard run with 5:15 remaining in the quarter.
The Jays then scored twice within two minutes, as a pair of short runs by Payton Bouma increased the deficit up to 21.
The teams battled through a scoreless second quarter before play was suspended.
When the action got underway again the next morning, the Pioneers seemed to have the momentum after stringing together an 11-play 47-yard drive down to the Gehlen 30-yard line with Jacob Dodge in at quarterback. Okoboji, however, eventually turned the ball over on downs.
"I had a talk with both of the boys early that morning to tried and shake it up a little bit because we knew we'd be without (starting quarterback) Alex Heller for at least another week, so we decided to switch roles and Jake stepped up," said Allen. "We concentrated on getting the ball to Jordan and when that wasn't available Jake did a good job of tucking and running. He's our third string quarterback and he had a little time under center last year, but it was nice to see him fill that role for us."
An interception stalled the next drive before Okoboji had a 19-yard reception called back due to holding on its third possession. A fake punt netted five yards on fourth-and-13 two plays later to give Gehlen the ball back.
The Jays tacked on another score with 8:04 remaining in the fourth quarter as Hunt capped off a five-play drive with a 15-yard score.
Noah Bouse had a 19-yard reception called back due to a holding penalty on the fourth Pioneer drive. Soloman Freking made a diving acrobatic interception on the very next play for Gehlen.
The Pioneers turned the ball over on downs three times in the second half. They were also hurt by two interceptions and two costly drive-killing penalties on receptions that totaled 38 yards and moved them into Gehlen territory.
Gehlen held a 318 to 195 advantage in total offense over Okoboji even though the Pioneers held a 118-103 edge in the second half.
Dodge was 9-of-15 passing for 73 yards with two interceptions. He also rushed for 34 youth yards on five carries.
Hanna, who completed 5-of-12 passes for 71 yards with an interception under center, also hauled in five catches for 57 yards. Bouse added two receptions for 54 yards.
"Jordan went out and made some plays at receiver and with his interceptions and continued great play defensively," Allen said. "He was our MVP. He's really stepped up this year and is a great wrestler, which most of the time those guys are great tacklers, and he's on base to be an All-District player for us."
Hanna picked off two passes and Brett Barthman recovered a fumble. Austin Fox made 10 tackles, including two for losses. Cole Millard and Wyatt Slipke each had two tackles for a loss. Millard, Dodge and Tyeson Barnett also recorded six stops.
Okoboji (0-6, 0-4) next travels to Albert CIty to take on Sioux Central in a non-district game.
"They run a belly buck (offense). All they care about is the three yards in front of them," said Allen. "It's a tough we played them last year and we thought we could match up against them because their kids aren't a lot bigger than ours, but they're a very good team. They're like the second best rushing team in 1A. They don't throw it a lot, with just 25 passes, but they're a good rushing team which we struggle against."