PREP FOOTBALL: Dragons run away from Wildcats in playoff opener
ADRIAN -- Mitchell Sieve likes running the football.
It was a good thing, because the Adrian football team did plenty of it.
A senior quarterback, Sieve and the top-seeded Dragons ran up 361 yards rushing en route to a 40-20 victory against eighth-seeded Southwestern United in the first round of the Section 3A playoffs Tuesday night.
"We showed up tonight a little better than we have in the past couple of games," Sieve said. "We showed up and we played a lot better than we have been. In the last couple of games we haven't showed up as well as we have before. But we showed up tonight and we moved the ball well. We didn't pass much, but we ran the ball well."
Sieve was 0-for-1 passing on the night -- narrowly missing a big completion to Kyle Kilgore -- but did plenty of damage with his legs.
"I don't mind running the ball," Sieve said. "I like getting rushing yards, too. I like hitting a little bit."
Sieve finished with 84 yards on five carries -- all in the first half -- on the night.
"The line had really good holes and big holes," he said. "I ran right through them."
The Dragons were playing without leading rushing Nate Lynn, but had plenty of options who stepped up in his place.
"That's what we wanted to do, get the ground game going, get some lead blockers and get our guys going," Adrian head coach Randy Strand said. "Jordan had a real good game and filled in real well for Nate tonight. Tiede ran well, ran hard and blocked well. We missed a few things here and there, but we were certainly good enough to get the job done."
Jake Tiede finished with 67 yards on 12 carries and had three touchdowns, while Zach Albertson had 44 yards rushing on eight carries and a score. Eighth-grader Logan Rogers had eight rushes for 38 yards.
"I kind of hand the ball off and let the backs and linemen do the rest of the work," Sieve said. "They seem to get it done pretty good. They do a pretty good job."
Kilgore set the tone from the opening kickoff with a 52-yard return.
Six plays later, Dingmann found pay dirt from four yards out, giving the Dragons a 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing SWU possession, Kilgore made a one-handed interception -- the first of five on the night for the Adrian defense -- setting up another Dragon score.
Dingmann ripped off a 48-yard run on the first play of the Adrian drive. Sieve had a key 17-yard keeper later in the possession before Tiede scored from three yards out. The two point conversion was good, pushing the lead to 14-0.
"That's what we like to do, we like to pound the ball," Strand said. "We just get it in a few different hands, block from a few different angles and see what we can get going."
The Wildcats' next possession ended on another interception, this time by Sieve as the Dragons had the ball on their own 11-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Sieve rumbled for a 42-yard gain and Albertson followed with a 16-yard run.
The drive was capped by a one-yard run by Albertson early in the second quarter as the Dragons' lead was pushed to 20-0.
For the third time in as many possessions, the Dragons intercepted a Wildcat pass -- this time by Tiede -- as Adrian had the ball at the SWU 13.
Tiede ran three times and capped the drive with a six-yard run, giving AHS a 26-0 lead.
"We made a couple nice interceptions that gave us good field position and then we kept them out of the end zone," Strand said. "But we were able to capitalize on them and get our ground game going and we were able to do things that way."
The Wildcats punted on the next possession and Adrian took over at its own 45.
After an incomplete pass -- the only attempt of the night for the Dragons -- Kilgore ran for a 14-yard gain to get into SWU territory.
Embarking on a 10-play drive that took more than four minutes, Tiede put more points on the board with an eight-yard run, giving Adrian a 33-0 lead heading into halftime.
Adrian's Dalton Jeffers intercepted a pass on the second play of the third quarter and Dingmann scored from 30 yards out and Tiede made the PAT, pushing the AHS lead to 40-0.
Jeffers intercepted a pass on the next SWU possession, but the Adrian offense wasn't able to capitalize.
Taking over on their own 19-yard line with 7:25 remaining in the third quarter, the Wildcats put a drive together.
Highlighted by a pair of passes from Luke Henkels -- one to Erik Jass for 27 yards and another to Jamison Collin for 28 yards -- the Wildcats were moving down the field.
Kurt Schmitz had a run of 16 yards to set up Kyle Elder's 15-yard touchdown pass to Jass, cutting Adrian's lead to 40-6.
The Wildcats had another long scoring drive early in the fourth quarter. Using 13 plays to cover 64 yards, Henkels found Collin for a 17-yard score. Henkels ran in the conversion, cutting the lead to 40-14.
But the Wildcats weren't done.
After having a touchdown called back, Henkels had a 43-yard pass to Elder as time was winding down.
As the clock hit zeroes, Elder dropped back to pass, but tucked the ball and ran.
He reached across the goal line, giving the Wildcats a touchdown on their final play of the season.
SWU finishes 0-9 this season, while Adrian (8-1) advances to face Springfield in the second round.
"We just have to have a good week in practice and work on our tackling a little bit," Sieve said. "We haven't been tackling the best. We have to clean up a lot of stuff and have a good week of practice.
"We're going to have a tough game Saturday against Springfield, that's why we have to have a good week of practice and get the job done on Saturday and get on to the section final."
The fifth-seeded Tigers beat fourth-seeded Martin County West 21-20 on Tuesday night.
"They have that triple option, so that's always a threat," Strand said. "I don't know if we've ever played them here, but I think the last few times we played them, they kind of beat up on us."
In the other half of the 3A bracket, third-seeded Wabasso is at second-seeded Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin.
"This is anybody's ball game," Strand said. "The last four teams in it, you can throw the records out. It's going to be whatever team shows up and whichever team turns it over the least and plays good, solid football."
SWU 0 0 6 14 -- 20
Adrian 14 19 7 0 -- 40