If homecoming 2018 doesn’t take the crown for the wettest game in FHS history, it should at least be named most congenial for it’s entertainment value and story line.
Senior Cole Engle followed a big block from classmate Tristin Waugh for a two-yard gain and a touchdown just 3:08 into the contest to give Fairfield a 6-0 advantage.
Less than six minutes later in game time, fellow 2019er Noah Stone followed Waugh into the endzone for a two-yard score of his own that gave the Trojans a 12-0 lead at the half.
“The offense really clicked early,” said head coach Matt Jones. “We did a lot of good things on the line of scrimmage and our backs ran hard. It was good to score two early touchdowns, but we had a hard time being consistent on offense after those early drives. The footing was not good, but both teams had to play on it. The kids made some memories in the mud.”
Offensive line coach Woody Orne explains the team strategy and how it changed when the rain started to fall.
“Normally, we like to throw the ball a little bit more, but we just weren’t effective there,” explained the FHS alum/former Hawkeye.
“The problem is, when you get a short run on first down and incomplete a pass on second down, all of a sudden you have third and long and it really narrows our play-calling. Most of the night we were effective in staying a head of the chains and made the adjustments we needed in the third and fourth quarter.”
“We knew it would most likely be a slick surface,” added Jones. “We had those little wooden tongue depressors out there so guys could clean out their cleats, and we really preached short, quick steps and keeping our feet under us rather than long strides. That hurts us a bit on defense with tackling as well, but, both teams had to deal with the conditions and it’s part of playing football on grass outside in Iowa.”
After no score in the second quarter from either team, Keokuk took advantage of the conditions when Corey Skinner found Tyjia Mueller for a nine-yard touchdown pass that cut the deficit in half for the Chiefs. Fortunately for Fairfield, the Trojans blocked the point-after attempt leaving the score 12-6 in favor of the home team.
“Our defense gave up some yards, but bottom line they only gave up one score,” Jones proudly boasted. “The most important stat on defense is scoring defense, and I was proud of the players for having their backs against the wall several times turning Keokuk away scoreless. In that third quarter we struggled on offense and couldn’t flip the field until Carter Ferrel boomed a 54-yard punt that pinned Keokuk inside their own 15.”
“Everybody contributed,” added Orne. “If you take the five guys playing linemen for us right now, they are all linemen and I wouldn’t have said that at the start of the year.”
“We have Reece Klehm who has fought his butt off all year, Aiden Pohren is our sophomore trying to keep his head above water and Gage Hook and Sam Mattson are helping Aiden out, so it’s 100-percent a team win for the line.”
With the Trojans clinging to a 12-6 lead and the clock not rotating fast enough for anyone wearing orange, Tristin Waugh jumped on his horse and rode through a sea of tacklers during a 33-yard run that sealed the homecoming victory for Jones and the boys.
“He’s really a tough football player,” said Jones. “He plays a bunch of snaps for us, and the great thing about him is he was pushing hard and blocking during his fullbacks scores on those first two touchdowns. He kept hammering away knowing that our offensive line would give him a seam and when they did, he broke some big runs in the 4th quarter. Defensively, he is a quick player off the line and uses his hands well. It was a great night for Tristin and all of our seniors.”
Orne warned the twelfth-graders before the game to not waste the opportunity.
“Homecoming is really important to me. My last game at Trojan Stadium it rained all day and we were a good team that got stomped at home and we didn’t go to the playoffs.”
The class of 2019 avoided leaving the field with that similar feeling.
“I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of fun and it was a fun last game for me at home,” said senior QB1 Carson Crile. “I can live with that.”
The senior Mattson looked at it a bit differently. “How fun a game is really depends on the outcome since I can’t think of a more fun sport than hitting somebody.”
Both agreed that it was a hard pill to swallow.
“It’s starting to hit a little bit,” admitted Crile whole Mattson said, “It hasn’t sunk in, but tomorrow it will probably hit me like a train.”
Crile was 3-9 passing with 38 yards.
Waugh had 35 carries for 194 yards rushing and a score and also blocked for touchdown runs by Cole Engle and Noah Stone who combined for five touches for 15 yards and the two scores.
Engle also led the Trojans in tackles with eight, while Brittan Bowman had seven and Jackson Weaton added five.
Ferrel had four punts for 140 yards with the boomer placed inside the 20 and sophomore Landen Schafer went 1-3 on extra points.
“Every week is big, and this one is no different,” suggested Jones. “We will need a great week of preparation in order to earn the right to play well on Friday, and Washington is a good football team. We will need to be ready to play four quarters of consistent and tough football.”
Beating Washington and/or Solon?
“That would be a good end to our senior year,” said Crile with a crocodile smile.