VICTORIA — Seemingly nothing went wrong for the Victoria High School football team in the first seven minutes of Friday’s homecoming game against Logan-Palco.
Up 24-0, the Knights scored at will — a 50-yard pass from junior Cooper Windholz to junior Caden Oberle, a 30-yard run by Windholz, then a 27-yard run by senior Collin Kisner.
Meanwhile, the visiting Trojans could not muster much of anything against an inspired Victoria team.
Just don’t tell Knights’ coach Doug Oberle it was going to be easy from that point. He knew the Trojans were a threat even against the odds on the road. It took a Victoria complete game from that point to come away with a 50-26 victory in both team’s Eight-Man Division I, District 4 opener.
“We knew they weren’t going to go away without a fight,” Oberle said. “They’re too good.”
And he was right. Fighting off the early deficit, the previously unbeaten Trojans stormed back to score the next 20 points to pull within one score early in the third quarter.
Then, Logan-Palco coach Mike Jenner said, the wheels came off again — much like the start of the game.
“We weren’t mentally read to go, simple as that,” Jenner said. “We were making stupid mistakes, weren’t in position and weren’t carrying out our assignments.”
Not until senior quarterback Riley Allen threw up a fourth-down heave late in the first quarter did Logan-Palco show any signs of a fight. When senior running back David Thompson came down with it for a 41-yard score, that started the rally.
It was the first of two big plays by the Trojans’ quarterback on what seemed nothing short of desperation attempts. That’s simply because the senior waits for the play to develop.
“He was waiting too long, but he has a good arm and he knows what he’s doing,” Jenner said of his QB, in his first year under center. “We have receivers that will catch the ball. All he has to do is get it out there for them.”
His second bomb found sophomore Bodey LeRoux to the 1-yard line. Then Thompson ran in the score and by the end of the first quarter, the Trojans pulled to within 24-14.
Thompson torched the Knights a season ago in Logan, a Victoria loss that aided the Knights’ hiatus from the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
This time around, Coach Oberle said, the Knights weren’t going to let Thompson be a huge factor. He still managed 83 yards and a score, but they were tough yards against gang tackling on the 6-foot, 200-pound bruiser.
“The kid’s a stud. He’s a man,” Oberle said of Thompson. “We knew we were going to have to get two or three. Nobody on my team is bringing that kid down one-on-one.”
The teams battled to a scoreless second quarter that included a pair of turnovers. Despite Victoria junior Walker Braun picking off an Allen heave at the goal line and the Trojans having a TD called back on penalty, the momentum seemed to be on the side of the visitors.
“I didn’t know what we were going to get in the second half,” Coach Oberle said. “Our halftime locker room was not pretty or pleasant.”
The start of the third quarter didn’t get much better for the Knights. Logan-Palco gambled successfully on fourth down twice on its first possession, then eventually scored on fourth-and-4 when Allen ran around the right side for a 36-yard score. It made the game 24-20 with 8:46 to play. The Trojans, though, had lost starter LeRoux to an apparent leg injury, one that delayed the game by approximately 15 minutes.
The next two big plays shifted all the momentum the Knights’ way.
Windholz found Knights’ senior Cole Schmidtberger wide open on a play-action pass for a 35-yard score, and seconds later Schmidtberger pounced on a squib kick, giving the Knights the ball right back.
“Big momentum shift coming out of the half,” Schmidtberger said. “We just came back and did what we needed to do.”
The recovery resulted in an eventual 5-yard run by Kisner, and the Knights were back up by 18.
The fourth quarter then became a race for point margin. Last season, the Knights missed out in a three-way tie for the second spot in the district behind Osborne, being eliminated by one point.
Victoria tacked on two fourth-quarter scores, a 1-yard run by senior Cooper Pfanenstiel and a 13-yard pass from Windholz to Oberle to set the final margin. Logan-Palco had the same thought process — trying to make up points, despite not being able to mount a comeback.
“Nature of the beast,” Coach Oberle said. “Have to go down and find points. I can’t let us get in that position again.”
Windholz had a career day throwing the ball for Victoria. He finished 5 of 8 for 100 yards with three scores, while adding 59 rushing yards and a score. Pfanenstiel had 19 carries for 115 yards and a score, while Kisner — still playing hurt — had 57 yards and two scores. Allen finished 6 of 16 with one interception for the Trojans. He also finished with 71 yards on the ground.
Logan-Palco plays host to defending Eight-Man Division I Osborne (4-1) in Logan on Friday. Victoria (4-1) is back at home to face undefeated Bennington, a 54-6 winner against Lincoln in its district opener. Elsewhere in a loaded District 4, Osborne defeated Solomon 58-40 without the help of the QB/RB duo of Darnell and Darrien Holloway. After Friday, Bennington leads the district, while Victoria sits second and Osborne third.