IDA GROVE, Iowa — There have been plenty of high points in the history of Carroll Kuemper football, especially recently.
Eight straight playoff appearances and 10 in all. Seven postseason victories.
But it’s coach Chad Klein’s understanding that no Knight team has ever completed an unbeaten, untied regular season. Kuemper took a huge step toward achieving that goal on Friday.
The state No. 4 Knights scored on seven of their first eight possessions and blasted OA-BCIG 44-2 in a matchup of Class 2-A, District 8 unbeatens.
Kuemper, also rated first in western Iowa (Class 2-A/1-A/A) by The World-Herald, improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in district play. Western Iowa No. 5 OA-BCIG dropped to 5-2 and 4-1. Kuemper will be heavily favored to finish an unbeaten regular season when it closes against Red Oak (2-5) and Clarinda (1-6).
That’s why, at the urging of their players, the Knight coaches all sprinted together from midfield into the swarm of athletes near the end zone at game’s end.
“The kids played well,” Klein said. “Once we settled down and started playing what we were taught to do all week, we were better.”
Kuemper dominated all statistical categories, rolling up 412 total yards and allowing just 113.
“They’re big, athletic and quick,” OA-BCIG coach Larry Allen said. “That kind of team matches us, speed-wise, in our backfield. We can usually get the corner, but they have second and third kids that are catching you.”
On offense, Kuemper opened huge holes and gave quarterback Cole Neary ample time to pass. From left tackle to right tackle, the Kuemper starters were Sam Brincks (6-foot-6, 220), Steven Peterman (6-5, 205), Logan Nolting (6-2, 175), Sam Gehling (6-4, 225) and Chris Halbur (6-5, 260).
Kuemper junior Chase Rupiper carried for 28 and 29 yards on his first two attempts of the game to set the tone, and he finished with 21 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He also made several defenders miss with nifty open-field moves.
“It looks like he’s hitting the ‘B’ button a lot, doesn’t it?” Klein said with a smile. “He spins a lot and he’s elusive.”
The Knights showed tremendous balance, with Neary expertly calling the shots. The 6-5, 192-pounder finished 15 of 20 for 237 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, going over the 1,100-yard mark for the season. He now has 14 TD passes and two interceptions.
“He’s been getting better every week,” Klein said.
Kuemper’s Alex Drees caught five passes for 114 yards, and Colby Baumhover added two scoring catches and 47 receiving yards.
Defensively, Kuemper was so good it even held when the Falcons were given a fifth down. That happened late in the first quarter, when the down marker operator neglected to switch it to third down, and the officials didn’t catch the error. Even with the extra down, OA-BCIG failed to score on the drive.
Kuemper also dominated in one area it’s not thrilled about: penalties. The Knights were flagged 13 times for 140 yards, including 11 times for 115 yards in the first half.
“Our kids play aggressive,” Klein said. “We had quite a few penalties, but a lot of those came as aggressive penalties, where they were playing to the whistle. Those are going to be expected when you play that type of ball.”
With Neary’s 3-yard sneak for a touchdown and Josh Irlbeck’s 2-point run, Kuemper went up 21-0 with 5:11 left in the first half. Taking over again at their 17 with 58 seconds remaining, the Knights didn’t sit on the ball.
Neary completed passes of 22 yards to Baumhover and 57 to Drees to put Kuemper on the Falcon 4. The Knights settled for Kolby Hilgenberg’s 28-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 24-0. The continuous clock started running with 3:11 left in the third, after the Knights went up 38-0.
OA-BCIG scored a safety when a Kuemper reserve was tackled in the end zone with 6:00 left.
Allen said the Falcons still have plenty to play for. That’s the point he was getting across to his players after the game.
“The bad news is you’re not going to win the district,” he said. “The good news is you win one more and you get to host a (playoff) game.”
Carroll Kuemper (7-0, 4-0)..................7 17 24 0—44
At OA-BCIG (5-2, 4-1)..................0 0 0 2—2
CK: Colby Baumhover 10 pass from Cole Neary (Kolby Hilgenberg kick)
CK: Baumhover 13 pass from Neary (kick blocked)
CK: Neary 3 run (Josh Irlbeck run)
CK: FG 28 Hilgenberg
CK: Chase Rupiper 15 run (Hilgenberg kick)
CK: Josh Irlbeck 2 run (Hilgenberg kick)
CK: Rupiper 3 run (pass failed)
OABCIG: Safety, runner tackled in end zone
RUSHING: CK, Chase Rupiper 21-180, Colby Baumhover 1-6, Josh Irlbeck 2-5, Cole Neary 2-(-5), Cody Weitel 2(-10). OA-BCIG, Trever Ryen 10-25, Quinn Westphal 8-16, Cash Wilcke 11-15, Austin Zobel 3-10, Creighton Allen 4-(-17).
PASSING: CK, Cole Neary 15-20-0, 237 yards, 2 TDs. OA-BCIG, Creighton Allen 7-16-1, 60 yards. Austin Zobel 1-6-0, 4 yards, Trever Ryen 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: CK, Alex Drees 5-114, Colby Baumhover 4-47, Josh Irlbeck 2-28, Nick Greteman 2-25, Chase Rupiper 1-16, Alex Gunnerson 1-7. OA-BCIG, Trever Ryen 4-27, Cash Wilcke 2-23, Tyler Oberreuter 2-14.
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