BY KACIE TIMMONS
The Smith Center Redmen and the Norton Bluejays faced off on Friday, Sept. 13, for their second football game of the season. Each team made improvements from last week. It was a well-fought, physical game and both teams moved the ball well on offense; however, the Redmen came out on top, 41-18.
“We focused more on the linemen this week, making sure we had more down blocks and everyone covered,” said Smith Center senior, Joel Montgomery.
The Redmen scored on their first drive of the game after a long rush from Colton Shoemaker and two runs from Jaden Atwood put them inside the ten-yard line. Trenton Colby ran the ball inside the endzone on the next play to put the Redmen up early. The PAT kick from Sergio Lambert moved the score to 7-0 with 7:35 left in the first quarter.
Both teams battled back and forth for the rest of the quarter and the Bluejays moved the ball downfield in their second drive of the game. Norton’s quarterback, Kade Melvin, had a rush of 25 yards, then he completed a 16-yard pass to Brandon Vacura. Another quarterback keeper moved the Bluejays to the Smith Center 12-yard line just before time ran out in the first quarter.
Picking up in the second quarter, another pass to Vacura put the Bluejays at the 5-yard line. However, the Redmen defense held strong and prevented Norton from scoring, creating the turnover on downs.
Smith Center worked their way down the field and scored again on the ensuing drive. A 28-yard rush for Jaden Atwood and a successful PAT kick from Lambert, increased the Redmen’s lead to 14-0 with 4:41 left in the half.
Norton was forced to punt on the following drive, but held off the Redmen offense. The Bluejays took over again at the Smith Center 34 with one minute left in the half. A 9-yard rush from Kade Melvin and a completed pass to Brandon Vacura put the Bluejays on the board. The PAT kick from Luke Wahlmeier was no good so the score stayed at 14-6 with 39 seconds left in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Norton tried to squib kick and the Redmen recovered the ball at their own 43-yard line. A defensive holding penalty and a 31 yard run from Trenton Colby moved the redmen to the 13-yard line. Two plays later Colby found Griffin Kugler in the endzone to regain momentum and make the score 21-6 heading into the half.
Norton was the first to score in the second half. A pass to Vacura, an 18-yard rush from Melvin, and two passes to Carter Jones moved the Bluejays within 3 yards of scoring. Wahlmeier dove into the endzone with the ball to put 6 more points on the board for Norton. An unsuccessful PAT left the score at 21-12.
The Redmen answered on the next drive when Nate Hendrich broke away and ran 80 yards to score again for the Redmen. The PAT changed the score to 28-12 with 6:22 left in the third quarter.
The Redmen struck again on their next possession after forcing Norton to punt with a little over four minutes left in the third quarter. A penalty pushed Smith Center back to their 1-yard line, but Jaden Atwood broke away for a 99-yard touchdown rush. Lambert’s PAT increased the lead to 35-12. Neither team would score again until the fourth quarter.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Norton scored its final touchdown of the game. A 31-yard drive from Jones and a 12-yard drive from Wahlmeier set Tucker Pfannenstiel up for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Bluejays attempted a two-point conversion but an incomplete pass left the score at 35-18.
The Redmen also scored one more time to finish the game. Hendrich, Atwood, and Shoemaker moved the ball down the field for Smith Center. A 5-yard touchdown rush from Colton Shoemaker finalized the Redmen’s victory. An unsuccessful PAT left the final score at 41-18.
“We stressed this week to come out and play better. We made a lot of mistakes in that first game. I really thought the guys took what we worked on in practice and brought it to the game,” said Smith Center head coach, Darren Sasse. “Our offensive line blocked so much better and the backs still ran hard. Defensively we bent some, but fortunately, we were able to keep them out there in the second half. I’m pretty happy overall.”
The Redmen rushed for 493 yards, 235 of those coming from Jaden Atwood. The Bluejays rushed for 258 yards and threw 160 passing yards. Kade Melvin led the team in rushing and passing with 173 yards and 144 yards respectively.
Next Friday Smith Center (2-0) will face Phillipsburg (1-1) on the road and Norton (0-2) will play Oakley (2-0) at home.