After giving up an early 84-yard touchdown run to 9-man semi-final opponent Stephen Argyle Central, the Spring Grove Lions' defense took over. The Section 1 champions' offense exploded in the third quarter giving the defense more than it would need…
After giving up an early 84-yard touchdown run to 9-man semi-final opponent Stephen Argyle Central, the Spring Grove Lions' defense took over. The Section 1 champions' offense exploded in the third quarter giving the defense more than it would need in a 27-7 victory Thursday afternoon.
Despite going 59-9 the last handful of years, Spring Grove had not been to the state tournament in that timeframe. Why? All nine of those losses were at the hands of Grand Meadow who won the last four 9-man state championships. After getting the Superlarks monkey off their back twice this season, the Lions were poised for a long run at State.
The key to the defensive effort was the play of nose tackle George Boyd. Early in the game, he made two straight tackles. Then Ethan Matzke put good pressure on the quarterback and combined with Boyd for a sack. Later Boyd and Sam Sanness combined for a tackle that resulted in a short loss. Boyd read a screen pass and knocked down the pass. Finally, the senior scraped down the line of scrimmage to stop an outside run for no gain.
The entire defensive line Boyd, Sanness, and Matzke were critical in holding down the Storm running attack.
Sanness made a tackle for a short gain followed by Matzke reading a screen pass and almost made the interception. Then Matzke fought off a block and stopped a sweep for a short gain. Sanness kept contain on a rollout and allowed linebacker Taylor Holty to get a sack. Matzke put good pressure on the quarterback again, and with tight coverage from Adin Solum, the Lions forced the incompletion and another punt.
Luke Schneider made three splashy plays. First with a tackle for short gain and then he made a tackle for loss. Finally, he made an open field tackle in the flat.
Safety Alex Folz made two open field tackles and had two bone jarring hits.
Solum made two plays in a row. First, he knocked away a pass in the end zone and on the next play he intercepted a pass.
Holty strung a run out wide and made the tackle.
Cullen Patterson had tight underneath coverage, and when the Chargers tried to go deep, he was in solid position down the sideline.
Offensively, quarterback Folz was involved in every aspect of the Lions' offense.
Folz – northstarfootballnews.com’s 94th ranked junior – is a physical runner and throws well on the move. He used a quick move in the backfield to pick up a first down. He broke two tackles on an option keep for ten yards. He got the corner during a run around the left side behind Boyd. On a 4th and 1, Folz ran right up the middle for five yards through a hole created by his center Austin Patterson. Folz went behind Boyd and Matzke for a long run then followed the same pair for an eight-yard touchdown run on the next play. He picked up 8 and then 15 yards behind Patterson. He cut back across the field after the hole was closed and scored an 8-yard touchdown. 8 showed the strength of his arm with a bullet to Patterson while Folz was on the move.
Noah Elton caught a pass from Folz on a crossing route. Later he threw the springing block on a sweep and on 3rd and long he caught a deep out for the first down. He was on the receiving end of a pass from Folz. The pass was right on the money and resulted in a 53-yard completion. Elton caught a pass down the sides and got blocks from Matzke and Sanness to get down the boundary. On the ground, Elton ran an end around for 15 yards.
Solum caught a deep pass down the sidelines. It was underthrown, but he came back and made the catch, fighting for the ball with the defensive back. Later Solum caught a swing pass benefiting from nice blocks by Matzke and Sanness. Later he made a diving catch on a quick out.
In addition to his defensive contributions, Schneider made a diving catch on a slant.
Tight end Sanness caught a screen for ten yards and then helped spring a sweep with a seal block on the outside.
Patterson made a tough run in the middle of the field. He is also a willing blocker – evident by his blitz pickups.
Spring Grove will take the field one more time against either Russell-Tyler-Ruthton or Nevis.