Game of the Week: Effort from Victoria not enough; Ness City rolls
Published on -9/16/2012, 5:11 AM
By NICK McQUEEN
NESS CITY -- If such a thing were possible, Friday's rout by the Ness City High School football team seemed much closer than the 52-8 final against Victoria.
That's the kind of thing third-year Eagles coach Chris Bamberger has come to expect when the two teams hook up.
Ness City has yet to be challenged on the scoreboard this season, outscoring their opponents 164-24, but Bamberger said they had to fight hard for everything they got Friday night.
"Victoria came to battle today, and that's absolutely what we expected," Bamberger said after his squad was just a failed, first-half, 2-point conversion away from ending the game in the third quarter. "It was an exciting game. Those kids were fighting physical, and that's exactly what you expect from them."
Victoria (1-2) had a burst of momentum out of the gate, but fumbled on just its third play, setting up a short field for the Eagles.
Ness City capitalized by going 34 yards on seven plays, with a 17-yard scoring run by senior fullback Dalton Gantz.
Despite what Victoria coach Doug Oberle called the best game of the career for junior nose guard Nathan Kuhn, the Eagles were able to chip away at a Victoria defense that was on the field most of the first quarter for a 16-0 lead. Senior tailback Garrett Flax scored from one yard out late.
"Nathan played extremely well in the first half," Oberle said. "I was very impressed."
Ness City (3-0) kept trying the inside, but gained most of its first-half yards on the outside. Taking a 22-0 lead again on a short field in the second quarter, Eagle senior quarterback Koltyn Ratliff hit senior end Blake McVicker down the middle for a 27-yard score.
"They were doing a good job up front and the kids come off the ball extremely hard," Bamberger said of the Knights. "It was one of those things where we just had to keep chipping, keep chipping, try to stay with it.
"They made it difficult to do that early," he added.
Victoria's biggest downfall came on its next possession. Sophomore Bryan Dome returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Ness City 25-yard line. Junior quarterback Sam Ottley completed two passes of 10 and 4 yards, respectively to junior Tanner Hobbs and sophomore Noah Dreiling, and rushed for five yards to eventually set the Knights up at the one-yard line. A false start backed the Knights up, and Victoria eventually fell short on fourth-and-goal from the eight.
"That's kind of been our issue all year," Oberle said. "We talk about six inches. That's probably a term that's used all over in every football team. Six inches is huge in the game of football. There are times you have to get those no matter what.
"Right now, we're not getting those," he added.
Ness City punched on two more scores one coming after two long gains (32 and 16) from Ratliff, the other after an interception by Ottley. Ratliff scored from four yards out and Gantz from 17.
Ratliff finished the game with 89 yards on 15 carries, while Gantz posted 77 on 12 carries, and Flax had 63 on 12 carries. The Eagles rushed for 274 on the game.
A failed 2-point conversion on the last TD of the first half kept the Eagles from ending the game early with a 30-yard run by Flax in the third quarter. That opened the door for Victoria to muster something on the scoreboard, something Oberle attributed to a strong group of seniors.
"We had some resolve and we played hard the entire game," Oberle said. "... easily could have given up.
"Kirk Meier, Colton Leiker and Jublain Wohler -- three senior guys that have not got a lot of playing time, but those are three guys that have done everything asked of them," Oberle added. "They just play hard, and played hard this whole game -- fought hard all night."
The Knights capped their longest drive of the game of 65 yards with a two-yard dive by junior Clayton Roth. On the drive, Ottley connected with Noah Dreiling on a 23-yard play where Dreiling came back for the ball to make a nice grab.
Ness City tacked on the final score with second string teams playing in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles look to continue their hot start next week at Hodgeman County in Jetmore, where Bamberger graduated high school. The Longhorns took out previously unbeaten WaKeeney-Trego on the road Friday, 38-16. The Knights host Claflin-Central Plains on Friday. Central Plains lost 35-0 to St. John.