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Tough start for Albia in 41-7 loss to Pekin - Albia Newspapers: Sports

Tough start for Albia in 41-7 loss to Pekin

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Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 8:54 am


Editor and Publisher

You can’t minimize the disappointment of losing 41-7 to a Class A Pekin football team in a week zero game on Pekin’s home field. But neither should you maximize what it might mean to the Albia varsity football team’s future. To say there is work to be done to get the Blue Demons headed in the right direction is a bit of an understatement. For Albia co-coaches Scott Farrington and Justin Huber, they believe most of the problems can be corrected.

“In looking at the film, we didn’t grade well in a lot of areas,” said Coach Huber. “A lot of our guys are still trying to figure out the new offense. Some guys were trying to do too much instead of their 1/11th.

“I think a lot of people are wondering about our offensive line blocking and there is concern there, but my backs weren’t doing what they were supposed to do,” he said.

“Mostly it’s a whole lot of little stuff we can correct,” he added.

The one statistic that screams out for correction is a minus 103 yards rushing. If that is an Albia football record, it’s one that needs to be forgotten as quickly as possible. Only one player had positive rushing yardage. Shawn Goode had two carries for two yards. On the other side of the ball, Pekin had a pair of Ottumwa High School transfers, Monico Requena and Torell Washington slash Albia for 103 yards and 64 yards respectively. The Panthers ground out 236 yards rushing on 39 carries. They added 91 yards passing for 327 yards of total offense.

But it wasn’t only the rushing and passing that killed Albia. It was really spotty punt coverage that allowed for two touchdowns on returns of 35 and 79 yards. It was also a lack of offensive line blocking that allowed for two safeties, the first on the first play of the game with Cade Crall working out of the “Lonesome Polecat” spread offense.

That offense that crushed Davis County in the last game of the season a year ago, netted zero yards for the Blue Demons against Pekin.

There were some bright spots on an otherwise gloomy night of football. Cade Crall (when he had time to set up) proved to be an accurate passer, completing 11 of 15 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to five receivers with Tyler Stringfellow catching three for 96 and Nathan Crall three for 69.

First quarter

Pekin came out with what would turn into a potent rushing attack to start the game. Requena rushed four times for 29 yards, but was dropped for a six-yard loss and the Panthers punted to the Albia 16. On the first play from scrimmage, running out of the Lonesome Polecat, Crall was besieged by a three-man rush and dropped for a safety with 8:35 left in the quarter.

Albia punted to the 40 and Requena ran the ball back for a touchdown. Albia trailed 9-0 before four minutes had ticked off the clock.

Jeff Tratchel ran the ball out of Alba’s new pistol offense and gained no yards, but Crall hit Nathan Crall for three and a pass interference penalty gave the Blue Demons a first down. Tratchel ran twice for six yards, but Crall threw incomplete and Albia punted. The Blue Demon defense held Pekin to a minus-one yards and they punted back with 4:26 left. On second and 11 at the 41, Crall connected with Stringfellow in stride and he outsprinted the Pekin secondary for the score. Trent Garver hit the PAT and Albia trailed 9-7.

The Panthers were successful with the pass and the run on the next series, moving to the Albia 28, but Caleb Comstock threw incomplete three times and the Blue Demons took over with 1:07 left.

Second quarter

A fumble and a loss of four set up a second and 14, but Crall found Crall for 13 as the quarter ended. Albia punted on fourth and one at the 38, but the Panthers made up all of that and more with a 30-yard run and a 15-yard yard personal foul. They moved to the 27 and missed on a fourth and two.

The Blue Demons were back in business with 9:44 left in the half and the Crall to Stringfellow combination almost scored again. Stringfellow was finally brought down after 33 yards at the Pekin midfield. The drive faltered at the 44 and Albia punted, only to have Requena return it 79 yards for a touchdown. The kick was blocked and Albia was still very much in the game, 15-7.

Albia was called for grounding on the next drive and punted from their own three. The ball was returned to the 24 and a pass from Comstock to Dayne Exkley went for an apparent score, but it was called back on a holding penalty. Penalties continued to plague the Panthers and a punt landed at the Albia five. A pass interference penalty got Albia out of the hole with a first down at the 18, but Crall was sacked back to the seven after two rushing plays for minus yardage, and Tratchel punted again with 1:18 left in the half.

Starting at the 35, Requena ran for 13 and two, Comstock hit Chandler Exkley for 18 to the two and Requena scored with 22 seconds left, giving Pekin a 22-7 lead at the half.

Second half

A pass interference penalty got Albia out to the 33 and a two-yard pass to Gualtieri set up second and eight. On third and 11, Crall hit Stringfellow with a 32-yard pass to the Pekin 15, penalties backed Albia up to the 24 and then Crall threw to Stringfellow in the endzone and it appeared for all the world a faceguarding penalty should have been called. It wasn’t, but the officials did throw a flag on Stringfellow for unsolicited advice.

(Note to fans: In a 2017 rule change by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, faceguarding is now legal.)

Pekin started from their own 38 with 8:39 left in the quarter and got to the Albia 40 before the defense held. With 6:02 left, the Blue Demons had it on their own 40, lost six on a sack and then a snap sailed over Crall’s head and landed inside the 10 where Albia punted. Requena took the punt the distance for the second time, this time running 38 yards to make the score 29-7 with 3:53 left.

Albia’s rushing game continued to falter, Crall passed for a loss of three at the 12 and another bad snap ended up as a safety. Pekin led 31-7 with 1:26 left in the quarter.

Pekin punted with 11:09 left in the game, Crall completed three passes for short gains and a first down, but was sacked at the Albia seven, forcing another punt. With a short field at the 39, Pekin drove to the six where Albia’s defense stiffened and the Panthers settled for a field goal making the score 34-7.

Starting at the 11, Jer McAninch gained a yard, but yet another bad snap led to a recovery in the endzone with 4:31 left, leaving the score 41-7. That was the end of the scoring.

During Saturday’s “Coaches Corner” radio show, Coach Farrington agreed with Coach Huber on the things that need to be fixed. “It’s not one major thing, but a lot of little things,” he said.

Coach Huber added, “I think our attitudes are good. Everybody was saying the right things following the game; no finger point; no pouting. Monday we had a good film session.”

© 2017 Albia Newspapers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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