Times Sports Editor
The Jasper Wildcats looked every bit like the No. 3 ranked team in Class 4A on Friday night.
Jasper came in unbeaten and left the same way as they overpowered Northview 50-0 in the sectional opener for both squads. The loss ends the Knights' season at 8-2 overall and with a conference championship.
The Knights moved the ball early against a big, physical Wildcats' line and a quick defensive secondary and Northview was able to get a three plays and punt from its defense in Jasper's first possession. Northview's offense moved the ball from its own 25-yard line on the opening drive to midfield before punting and then marched from its own 19-yard line to Jasper's 23-yard line in a 10-play drive.
Trent Lancaster hit Zac Niehaus for a leaping 16-yard pass play and added a five-yard Jasper facemask penalty to the end to get to midfield. Lancaster hit Niehaus again, this time for an 18-yard play to set up first down at the 32-yard line. From there however, Jasper's defense stiffened and forced a fourth-down and about a half yard from the 23-yard line. Lancaster kept the ball on a quarterback sneak, but Jasper's line got the push up front to stop the play and turn the ball over.
The play was a microcosm of the evening as Jasper's offensive and defensive fronts were too much to handle for the Knights.
"Fantastic Jasper team, the bottom line was we started off OK on that first drive and were kind of able to do what we wanted, controlling the clock," Gettle said. "It was 0-0 in the first quarter and then the floodgates opened, we just couldn't handle them up front on either side of the ball. They just dominated the line of scrimmage and we couldn't tackle the backs when they got through there."
Field position would play a big role as well as Northview was forced to punt on its next drive after a bad snap pinned the Knights at their one-yard line. Jasper took over at the Knights' 35-yard line and Day did the work again. The junior back got the call on all four plays of the scoring drive to give the Wildcats a 16-0 lead with 3:45 left following Jacob Bawel's conversion run.
The next Northview drive ended much the same except the bad snap came on the punt, which gave Jasper the ball at the Knights' 19-yard line. This time it took Day just one play to go 19 yards and the Wildcats had put Northview in a 23-0 halftime hole in the space of just seven minutes.
Afterwards, Gettle commented on Jasper's physical dominance of the game.
"That's a great Jasper team, we just need to get in the weight room and get bigger and stronger to play teams like that, but I look for (Jasper) to go far (in the tourney), they are awfully good," Gettle said.
"The way their cornerbacks play, kind of soft, I thought we'd be able to get the 180 game going, but again, when you pass the ball there are two bad things that can happen, an incompletion or an interception," Gettle said. "We didn't want to come in here and throw the ball 50 or 60 times, but we felt like we needed to keep the clock moving because (Jasper's) offense is so good. It worked for awhile, then late in the game we threw the ball, but you see what happens, you miss one or get a holding call and then you're in third-and-20."
Opening the second half, Northview's defense was able to get a stop and force the punt, but the stops were few as Jasper began to take control with its line play and running game.
Northview moved the ball to midfield on its first possession of the second half, but couldn't convert on a third-and-10 pass from the 44-yard line. Following the punt, Jasper's senior quarterback, Austin Ahrens, scrambled for a 53-yard run and he found Adam Sander for a 24-yard score with 6:34 left in the third quarter.
With the big lead, Jasper went to its workhorse, Day, who ran 14 times for 129 yards in the game. Day got Jasper to the Knights' 11-yard line after a 29-yard screen pass and Bawel, a 5'10, 210 lb. running back finished the drive with a two-yard score. The Wildcats capped the scoring on a 40-yard punt return from Scott Weinholdt to open the fourth quarter and later, Justin Reinhold had a five-yard score.
Jasper's defense was stellar throughout the game, allowing just 17 yards rushing by the Knights with Lancaster throwing for 126 total yards.
Afterwards, Gettle commented on the success of an eight-player senior class.
"Great senior class, they did some fantastic things for us this year. All the kids are great and come from great families," Getltle said. "I really enjoyed this team a lot, they were a lot of fun in the locker room, on the practice field, but really just a great group of seniors, 8-2 is a good season for us. We won the conference, obviously we're all disappointed about the showing tonight. We didn't necessarily come out and think we would beat Jasper by 30 (points), but we sure thought we'd be more competitive than we were."
JS -- Taylor Day three-yard run (Day run), 7:27
JS -- Day 10-yard run (Jacob Bawel run), 3:45
JS -- Day 19-yard run (Nalon Bell kick), 2:31
JS -- Austin Ahrens 24-yard pass to Adam Sander (Bell kick), 6:34
JS -- Bawel two-yard run (run failed), 2:30
JS -- Scott Wendholdt 40-yard punt return (Bell kick), 11:45
JS -- Justin Reinhold five-yard run (Bell kick), 6:25
Rushing -- Northview: Hyatt 6-14, Lancaster 17-4, Stevenson 3-(-2), Hauser 1-1; Jasper: Day 14-129 3TD, Ahrens 5-69, Bawell 7-30 TD, Reinbold 5-37 TD, Knies 1-9, Hahn 2-2.
Passing -- Northview: Lancaster 18-26 126 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int. Butts 2-2 25 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int. Jasper Ahrens 4-10 79 yards, 1 Int., 1 TD. Rogers 0-1 0 yards, 0 Int., 0 TD.
Receiving -- Northview: Niehaus 8-81, Bradshaw 1-4, Stevenson 1-3, Butts 5-35, Lancaster 2-15, Rector 1-8, Hyatt 1-(-5). Jasper: Nelson 1-25, Tyler Kremp 1-3, Day 1-24, Sander 1-24 TD.