PREP FOOTBALL: Lions maul Wolverines in openerROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — On a beautiful late summer evening with the sounds of car racing from the Rapid Speedway as a backdrop, the senior-dominated Central Lyon/George-Little Rock Lions opened the 2011 high school football season with an impressive 51-0 victory over Class 4A Sioux City West.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — On a beautiful late summer evening with the sounds of car racing from the Rapid Speedway as a backdrop, the senior-dominated Central Lyon/George-Little Rock Lions opened the 2011 high school football season with an impressive 51-0 victory over Class 4A Sioux City West.
From start to finish, the Lions — who rushed the ball 60 times for 376 yards and were stopped only once all night long — were in control.
“We wanted to get off to a quick start and establish ourselves right away,” exclaimed veteran CL/G-LR head coach Toby Lorenzen. “We wanted to take control by playing basic straight ahead, ‘smash-mouth’ football and the play of our offensive line, along with the backfield combination of Terron Geerdes and Ryan McCarty allowed us to do just that.”
While Geerdes, a six-foot-one, 235-pound fullback, slammed through the line for 91 yards — on 16 carries — en route to scoring five touchdowns and McCarty, a fleet-footed 5-10, 160-pound tailback, racked up 120 yards on 16 rushes, it was junior backup quarterback Dylan Folkens who was carried off the field by the Lions after the victory.
“Dylan’s a great kid who’s been battling bone cancer and is getting a transplant tomorrow — which was moved back so he could be here tonight,” explained Geerdes after he and his teammates put Folkens back on the ground. “He’s doing pretty good and has been part of our football team before he was diagnosed last spring during track season.”
Folkens, a 5-11, 140-pound junior, was penciled in as the second-string Lions’ quarterback for this fall — behind senior veteran Ross Ackerman, who is CL/G-LR’s first two-year starting quarterback in several years.
“Dylan has Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer,” Lorenzen said. “But, he’s been getting good reports and he’s going up to the University of Minnesota to get a stem cell transplant and may miss the rest of our games. So, we wanted to treat him to a well-played game tonight, which the guys really executed.”
After a defensive stop on West’s opening series — which started with a tackle by Josh Hunt and was finished by a bruising hit by Luke Grooters (both junior linebackers) — the offensive execution of the Lions’s ground game became apparent.
Geerdes and McCarty — both seniors — took turns running the ball on CL/G-LR’s opening drive.
Geerdes capped the 11-play, 68-yard drive — which chewed up three minutes and 53 seconds of clock time — with a one-yard plunge over left guard.
Geerdes, who rushed seven times for 41 yards on the drive, ran over right guard for the two-point conversion and with 5:48 showing on the first-quarter clock, the Lions had an 8-0 lead.
“Our line did an absolutely great job of blocking and opening up the holes,” declared Geerdes after the game. “This was a lot of fun, no doubt about it.”
After forcing the Wolverines’ second punt of the game, the Lions started their second drive from almost the exact same spot — their own 33-yard line.
This time, however, the purple-and-gold clad home team only took six plays to march the distance.
After 15 consecutive running plays, Ackerman (a 6-7, 210, senior) went to the air for the first time.
His passed was deflected, but Lions’ tight end Matt Nagel (6-4, 220, senior) made a fantastic catch and his 34-yard gain gave the Lions a first-and-10 at the SCW nine-yard line.
Geerdes bolted in for his second touchdown on the next play, capping the six-play, 67-yard drive, which took just 2:33.
“That was a great catch,” praised Lorenzen. “Matt played tackle last season, but we moved him out to tight end this year, which looks like a good thing for us.”
Joining Nagel on that CL/G-LR starting offensive line are center Daren Winkowitsch, guards Eric Clasen and Jaren Schrick, and tackles Alex Postman and Ben Starr.
“Nagel and Clasen were starters last year,” noted Lorenzen. “But, all of our guys committed to our summer weight training program and we’ve gained a lot of strength.”
McCarty, who burst through for several double-digit gains on quick openers during those two first CL/G-LR drives, scored the two-point conversion — standing up — as he zipped through a huge hole opened by the Lions’ line.
With 1:15 to go in the first quarter, the home team had a 16-0 lead.
Schilling’s interception and 47-yard return sets up Lions’ third touchdown
The Wolverines had a nice kick return, but a big tackle by senior Jason DeBey kept SCW from crossing midfield.
On first-and-10 from their own 43, the Wolverines went to the air and CL/G-LR cornerback Eric Schilling came up with, perhaps, the most electrifying play of the game.
The tall and athletic Schilling, who is playing in the defensive backfield for the first time this season, made a fabulous interception at the 50-yard line — right in front of the home crowd — as he wrestled the ball away from the intended receiver and then raced 47 yards down the sideline before being knocked out-of-bounds at the three-yard stripe.
“Eric just took the ball right away, showing his athletic ability on that play,” praised Lorenzen. “His long return set up our next touchdown and allowed us to keep the momentum going our way.”
Two plays after Schilling’s pick, Geerdes entered the end zone from six yards out — capping a two-play, three-yard drive, which took just 55 seconds.
Geerdes kicked the first of his four extra-point kicks and with 17 seconds left in the quarter, the score was 23-0.
In the second quarter, the Lions stopped the Wolverines on downs and took possession at their own 42-yard line with 11:43 to play in the first half.
After three consecutive first-down runs by Grooters, who gained 18 yards on three carries in the second quarter, the Lions were stopped for the only time all night.
Facing a first-and-10 from the West 20, Ackerman threw his third pass of the game, lofting the ball to the right corner of the end zone.
SCW’s Tucker Askelson intercepted the ball in the end zone, giving the Wolverines the football.
They didn’t keep it long, however.
On its first play, SCW fumbled and Grooters recovered, setting up CL/G-LR’s fifth series of the game.
It took just four plays and 1:24 to cover the 20 yards, as Geerdes bolted through a huge hole to the left and scored from five yards out.
Geerdes kicked the PAT and with 6:39 to play in the first half, the Lions had a huge 30-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, West’s Darius Pearson — who had several fine kick returns during the game — looked like he might break one for a score.
But, Geerdes met him squarely at the 49-yard line and smacked him down with a crunching tackle which could almost be felt in the press box.
“Terron can make plays like that,” declared Lorenzen. “It was a big hit which saved a touchdown.”
Sparked by Geerdes’ impressive open-field tackle, the Lions’ defense responded with a terrific series, forcing the Wolverines backwards on three straight plays.
Trenton Enger, Clasen and Grooters had consecutive tackles for a loss, sending SCW back to its own 22 where the Wolverines faced a fourth-down and 37.
Following Jesse Henrichs’ punt return, the Lions drove 49 yards in seven plays (2:50), increasing the lead to 37-0, as McCarty scored the touchdown from 13 yards.
McCarty had made a nifty cut and burst 13 yards for a key first down earlier on the drive.
“Terron is our go-to guy, but Ryan is our break-away guy,” summed up Lorenzen about the versatility of his two top backs.
McCarty opened the third quarter with a dazzling 56-yard kick return — the only time that CL/G-LR returned a kick all game — which set the Lions up at the SCW 44.
A 37-yard run by the quick-accelerating McCarty down the left sideline, gave the Lions a first-and-goal at the eight-yard line.
Running out of the Power I, Geerdes crossed the goal line — standing up — from the one-yard line three plays later. His kick was good and with 8:06 on the clock, the score was 44-0.
A big sack — after a muffed SCW option pitch — by CL/G-LR’s Jacob Kumba sparked the Lions’ defense on the next series.
On the next offensive possession, Lions’ sophomore running back Ethan Christians (five carries, 78 yards) broke a pair of tackle with an impressive spin move and rambled 50 yards for a CL/G-LR first down.
An eight-yard gain by sophomore quarterback Brent Klingenberg on the option keeper was the last play of the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Christians burst off left tackle for a 15-yard touchdown.
Grooters — with Kyler Huisman holding — kicked the PAT to conclude the game’s scoring.
The final two offensive highlights for the Lions were a 10-yard first-down run by Klingenberg — after the Wolverines had tackled Christians (who didn’t have the ball) and a nifty 14-yard gain by Henrichs, who kept his balance well and picked up another Lions first down.
Defensively, Colin Sandbulte — who had several key tackles early in the game — intercepted a Wolverines’ pass late in the second quarter after SCW had picked up consecutive first downs and was knocking on the door, having driven to the Lions’ 20-yard line.
But Sandbulte’s pick at the three stopped the drive as the first half ended.
The Lions host rival West Lyon in the annual Beef Bowl Friday.
SCW 0 0 0 0 — 0
CL/G-LR 23 14 7 7 — 51