There were just a lot of little things that went wrong on Friday as the Albia football team fell to arch-rival Centerville 51-12. Junior quarterback Blake Chance threw a pick-six the first play of the game, putting Albia in a 7-0 hole with seven ticks off the clock.
“Blake made a bad read on the play,” said Co-Head Coach Justin Huber. “It was about the only bad pass he had all night.”
Then the Blue Demons marched the length of the field with Chance finding four receivers with a pass to Garin Grinstead setting up a first and goal at the six. But Albia was unable to convert.
The Blue Demon defense just couldn’t find a way to stop the Big Red run. Centerville punted just once all night. “We had a lot of young guys on defense and Centerville came out doing some things that surprised us,” said Coach Huber. “We didn’t adjust as quickly as we should have. Luke Bossard played an incredible game at safety. He stopped a ton of potential long runs.”
Big penalties essentially handed Centerville its third touchdown after a brilliant drive let Albia score its first touchdown and close the score to 14-6 with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
Albia had zero rushing offense…literally. The Blue Demons tried to rush the ball nine times for a net zero yards gained for the game. “Our pass blocking was darned near perfect,” said Coach Huber. “Part of our problem with run blocking is a new style of blocking we’ve implemented and the fact that we haven’t had enough repetitions to get the guys comfortable.”
Centerville possessed the ball nine times in the game and scored eight times.
But perhaps the biggest blow came on the third play of the third quarter when an Albia defender tried to adjust to a juke by junior slot back Gage Carson and unintentionally clotheslined the Big Red junior. His legs went out from under him and he landed on his forehead, knocking himself unconscious for a time. Emergency personnel treated it for what it appeared, a serious head and neck injury. The ambulance drove to the injured player and the game was halted for almost 40 minutes, before Carson was transported to Monroe County Hospital and eventually taken to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.
Coach Huber said Carson suffered a concussion and a lower back injury but was all right otherwise. The bad news at the moment the ambulance drove off the field, was the air was completely taken out of the collective soul of the Blue Demons.
Centerville would score twice in the third quarter creating a running clock and even the potent Blue Demon passing attack all but dried up. With the score 48-12 as the fourth quarter began, Albia finally stopped Centerville’s first team and Trent McCann came on to attempt a 51-yard field goal. McCann had earlier in the game hit a kickoff through the uprights. He was perfect in PATs and this kick sailed through the goal posts to create the final 51-12 margin of victory.
Between the lots of little things that went wrong for Albia on the night, there were a lot of things the team did well. As spotty as the run blocking was, the offensive line had a solid night pass blocking.
Coach Huber gave high praise to Jackson Pence, who was a last minute replacement on the line, moving from his tight end position. “It hurt not having him catching the ball for us, but he’s the kind of kid who will do anything for the team,” said Coach Huber. Chance was sacked just twice with Centerville knowing he was going to pass virtually every down. Only five yards were lost on the sacks.
Chance had a mostly positive night at quarterback. On Albia’s second drive that started on the 20 and got all the way to the Centerville six, Chance hit Nathaniel Wynn for 37 yards, rushed for eight yards and a first down, hit Liam Winfield for 13 and Grinstead for eight.
On Albia’s touchdown drive that ended with Grinstead catching an 11-yard pass from Chance, the junior quarterback found Wynn for eight, Luke Bossard for 17, Blake Stewart for five and Bossard again for 21.
Trailing 21-6 with 11:02 left in the half after two 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct set up a three-yard touchdown run by Quinton Koestner, Chance hit Winfield for 25 yards and Bossard for 13 before finding Wynn for 51 yards and the score. By the way, Wynn broke two tackles to make the score 21-12 with 8:36 left.
After Centerville scored with 5:42 left in the third quarter, Damon Sovern had a nice kickoff return to the 43 and Chance found Stewart for 11 yards to the 44. A penalty stopped that drive.
The tale of the game was found in the statistics. Centerville ran a balanced, nearly mistake free offense with 43 rushes for 171 yards and 12 of 15 passing by Koestner for 185 yards. Albia had no rushing yards and Chance was 22 of 37 for 274 passing. The Blue Demons had critical errors including two interceptions and a lost fumble.
Eight Blue Demon receivers caught passes led by Nathaniel Wynn’s six for 104. Bassard had five for 63, Winfield two for 42, Grinstead 3-37, Stewart 3-18, Heffron one for eight and Joseph Myers one for four. Stephen Conley caught a ball out of the backfield but was dropped for a two-yard loss.
Defensively, Bossard was the top tackler with 12 followed by Shawn Good with six and Heffron with four. Complete tackle stats were not available.
Mostly Centerville had a three-man offense with McCain Oden rushing 17 times for 127 yards, Quinton Koestner rushing 17 times for 38 yards and completing 12 of 15 passes for 185 yards and Trent McCann catching four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown, while booting seven PATs and hitting a 51-yard field goal.
Albia did not come out of the game unscathed. Montez Ellis, a starter on the defensive line and in the offensive backfield, tweaked his knee the first play of the game and will be out a week. Nick Heffron made it through the game in good shape, but had an emergency appendectomy over the weekend and will be out at least two weeks.
Albia will have Eli Beary, a veteran offensive lineman, back for Friday’s game against Chariton.
“Coach Farrington and I like the direction we’re heading,” said Coach Huber. “We’ve got to clean up a lot of things, but we did a lot of things right.”