By DAVE PAXTON
Editor and Publisher
When Central Lee trotted out their offense on the first series of downs and you did the quick math, there was a ton of linemen going up against Albia’s defense that features Jer McAninch and Doug Flattery as their biggest guys, both at around 210 pounds.
By the end of the three and out, you had the distinct feeling that size really didn’t matter in the game, you were right as a much smaller, vastly quicker Blue Demon team routed the Hawks 64-0 for their second district win of the season and their third straight victory.
“Going in, we were worried about their size,” said Coach Justin Huber. “This was not the game I expected. Our line did everything right, Blake got the ball off quick and our receivers and running backs beat them all over the field.”
You want to talk milestones? Blake Chance threw five touchdown passes to tie Brett Leshen’s 2013. He also set a new record for most completed passes in a game at 17. Chance completed 17 of 26 passes for 318 yards, without throwing an interception.
He found six receivers, including Nathan Crall, six for 91, Dawson Hermsen, four for 90, Gage Wilson three for 39 and Blake Stewart, two for 17, Beau Leshen one for 58 and Luke Bossard one for 23. Reserve quarterback, freshman Garin Grinstead was 2-2 for 44 yards, hitting Nathan Parks for a 32-yard touchdown and Jameson Robertson for a 12-yard pass. Albia had 362 yards in total pass offense.
Albia also ran the ball effectively and the 133 yards on 15 carries is deceptive. At least 70 yards were called back on a frustrating number of penalties. Jer McAninch had six carries for 41 yards, but very well could have gone over the 100-yard mark if not for flags. Dawson Hermsen had a 70-yard run cut in half because of a penalty midway through the run. The off tackle play worked and the jet sweep worked against a huge Central Lee defensive front four and a 265-pound middle linebacker.
What else worked was a smothering defense that held the Hawks to just 109 yards in total offense, including 36 yards rushing on 30 carries. The Blue Demons also picked off two passes and recovered a fumble.
“Our defense was pretty spectacular,” said Coach Huber. “Our linemen neutralized their big guys and our linebackers and defensive backs flew to the ball.”
After Central Lee’s first punt, Albia took over at the 46, Chance hit Crall for eight, then McAninch ripped off a 20-yard run to the 26. From there Chance found Hermsen in the middle of the field and the senior all-purpose player sprinted in the touchdown. Wilson’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:18 left.
Central Lee punted again and Crall ran the ball back 48 yards to the 21. After a five-yard McAninch gain, Chance hit Wilson for the score with 7:35 left in the quarter. Wilson’s kick failed and Albia led 13-0.
The Hawks picked up their first first down on a 17-yard run, but Albia shut down the run and Cental Lee went into punt formation at the 4:34 mark. But the snap was bad and Albia smothered the punter at the 37. Crall picked up seven on the jet sweep and after a penalty Chance found Crall for 20 to the 15. Chance rolled out and hit Wilson for nine to the six and on the next play, McAninch burst through the middle of the line for the score. Wilson’s kick made it 20-0 with 3:58 still left in the quarter.
The Hawks had no luck, fumbling the kickoff which Albia recovered at the 14. A block in the back penalty shut down Albia’s drive but Wilson drilled a 32-yard field goal to put the Blue Demons up 23-0. Evan Pohren, Central Lee’s quarterback threw wildly as he was flattened by two Albia defenders and McAninch intercepted. The Albia tailback and former middle linebacker sprinted untouched into the endzone. With Wilson’s kick, Albia led 30-0 with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
The Hawks punted with nine seconds left and Chance hit Bossard for 23 yards to the 23 as the quarter ended.
Things really got sloppy for Albia as the second quarter began. A 23-yard touchdown run by McAninch was called back on a penalty, then Chance was sacked for a 13-yard loss. He threw incomplete, another penalty, another incompletion and an Albia punt. Central Lee started at their own 17, gained two and punted. The Blue Demons had another frustrating series with an ineligible receiver penalty and an illegal procedure killing the drive. Nathaniel Wynn’s punt was nearly blocked and the Hawks took over at the 49 with 7:56 left in the third quarter.
The Hawks picked up another first down with a 17-yard pass play to the Albia 32, but the drive died on a fourth and 11 attempt at the 34.
Starting at the 34, Hermsen got the handoff and sprinted 70 yards for what looked like a touchdown, but the gain was cut in half because of a block in the back penalty. A holding penalty negated a short completion to McAninch and Albia faced a second and 19 at the 25.
Chance hit Hermsen for a 16-yard gain setting up a third and three. The Blue Demons set up in the stacked I formation and Central Lee bit on a fake to McAninch. Instead Chance found a wide open Beau Leshen who sprinted 58 yards for the score. The kick was blocked, but Albia led 36-0 with 3:29 left in the half.
Central Lee went nowhere and punted to the Albia 26. Chance got white hot, hitting Crall for 10, Stewart for 12, gaining seven on a scramble, hitting Crall for 19 and then 21 to the Albia five.
That’s when mini back Skyler Workman came in and ran what Albia calls “Find the Midget!” Central Lee didn’t and Workman scored with the help of Leshen as the half ended. Wilson’s kick made it 43-0.
The Blue Demons got the ball to start the half, Chance hit Crall for 16, Hermsen for 35 to the 15 and McAninch ran the ball for 10 to the six where Chance found Stewart for the score. The kick made it 50-0 with 9:21 left.
The Hawks went four and out and Crall made a great punt return to the 30. Hermsen caught a Chance ball, ran 29 yards, juggled the ball and recovered his own fumble at the nine. A play later, Chance hit Wilson for the score and Albia led 57-0.
There were mostly Albia reserves on the field when Central Lee managed two first downs as the fourth quarter began. The Hawks moved to the Albia nine on a 16-yard pass play, but Nathan Parks intercepted out of bounds and Nick Scholtus intercepted for real and ran the ball back to the 30.
With Grinstead running the offense, the Blue Demons moved to the 32 where he found Parks in the endzone for Albia’s final score. David Fisher nailed the PAT and Albia led 64-0. Montez Ellis was featured in Albia’s final possession and the big sophomore plowed the ball down to the 18 where Grinstead took a knee.
“We’re preparing this week to play a vastly improved Davis County team who really believe in their new coach,” said Coach Huber. “And they like to throw the ball as much as we do.”