Knights battle adversity, Hurricanes on football field


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Reed Merkel brings down a Houston ball-carrier in the home opener last Friday.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Lucas Howard takes the handoff from Kingsland quarterback William Jahn in the game against Houston.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Hunter Lee, left, and Ashton Kohn team up for Kingsland to stop a Dover-Eyota play.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Andrew Ramaker offers protection on the line for the Kingsland offense in the game against Houston.
By: 
Chad Smith

The Kingsland Knights football team lost its home opener to the Houston Hurricanes by a score of 48-22 on Friday night.

What the final score doesn’t show you is just how much adversity the team battled through to compete against the ‘Canes. With the loss, the Knights fall to 0-2 overall and in the District 9 – South (East Sub-District) standings.

Kingsland coach Brent Stinson said the effort was there all night.

“Yeah, we increased our yardage output offensively against a pretty good Houston ballclub,” he said. “Houston was in the section championship game a year ago and lost to (eventual state champ) Spring Grove. I was pleased that we put 22 points on them and really felt like we left some more points out there on the field.

“Unfortunately, we also had a couple of big injuries in the first half as two of our three senior captains, Lucas Howard and Noah Watson, both went down. It took us a few plays to adjust to their loss. Our guys were resilient and played hard for each other. That’s all we could ask for.”

The Knights had their most success on the ground, with three runners combining for 23 carries, 173 yards (7.5 yards per carry), and one touchdown. William Jahn rushed it eight times for 81 yards and a touchdown. Devin Carr carried it 10 times for 73 yards, and James Howard ran in five times for 19 yards. Stinson said it was hard work running the ball as Houston came in with good size and strength on the line of scrimmage.

“They graduated most of their backfield from a team that could score a lot of points last year, averaging 35 points per game,” Stinson said. “They’re strong up front with some experience and depth. With their height and weight across the board, they’re a physical football team. They’re going to lean on you all game and we found that out right away.

“You have to trust in your technique and leverage when you play against a bigger front line, on both sides of the ball,” Stinson added. “Offensively, I thought our pass protection improved dramatically from week one.”

Kingsland took a quarterback-by-committee approach against Houston, with three players attempting at least one pass in the game. William Jahn, Devin Carr, and Kaden Rath combined to complete five passes in 16 attempts (31 percent) for 91 yards (18-yards per completion average), one touchdown, and two interceptions.

Jahn was two of nine for 53 yards, throwing the touchdown and two picks. Carr was one of five for 15 yards, and Rath as a perfect two of two for 23 yards. Reed Merkel caught both of Jahn’s completions for 53 yards and the touchdown. Mason Kolling had one catch for 23 yards.

On the injury front, both Howard and Watson are in concussion protocol and Stinson says it’s way too early to know if they’ll be available yet. “Lucas is a three-year starter for us,” Stinson said. “Noah is one of our hardest-working kids and an outstanding leader.

“We also had our quarterback, William Jahn, hurt his left (non-throwing) hand in the first series of the game,” Stinson added. “He missed the rest of the first series but came back to play the rest of the game. So, we had some adversity hit during the game, but our seniors and juniors rallied the rest of the team and held everyone together.”

Defensively, the Knights had three players combine for 29 tackles. Carr had a team-high 11 tackles (8 solo, 3 assists), Matthew Schwanke added 10 (7 solo) tackles, and Kaden Rath had eight solo tackles of his own.

“We’ll be working this week on our timing, trying to find some rhythm for our passing game,” he said. “Defensively, we’ll be working on controlling the inside running game.”

Schedule

Stinson says the first four weeks of the schedule are a “sledgehammer,” as the Knights face four extremely good nine-man teams. Kingsland will host Mountain Lake Area in Spring Valley on Friday night during week three. The Wolverines are 2-0 as they make the long road trip over from southwest Minnesota. Mountain Lake Area (No. 3 in nine-man rankings) beat Red Rock Central 45-6 in week one and Westbrook-Walnut-Grove 49-6 last week. Stinson said the Wolverines bring in a veteran team.

“They lost to Spring Grove in the state championship game last year,” he said. “They were 12-1 last year and they return a lot. Their quarterback is very agile, quick, and he makes good decisions with the ball. We’re going to have to contain him and keep him a pocket passer on Friday night.”