By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The Chase County Longhorns broke in their new field in style Friday, winning the inaugural game over Holyoke, Colo., 35-22.
The Longhorns built a 21-0 halftime lead and answered Holyoke’s scores in the second half to secure the win.
Coach Dan Lenners said he was pleasantly surprised by his team’s play in the first game.
While they still have lots of room for improvement, Lenners said he saw some good things Friday night.
However, he should be able to expect that with the experience he has back from last year.
Ball control proved to be a big factor, especially in the first half, Lenners said.
The Longhorns ran off a total of 45 plays en route to a 21-0 halftime lead. Defensively, they limited Holyoke to just 15 plays and forced them to punt on every possession in the first 24 minutes.
Holyoke got on the board in the second half but the Longhorns answered their first two scores to keep the game well in hand.
Lenners said the backs ran especially well. Steven Fish finished with 165 yards while Paul Gaschler ran for another 132 yards.
As the Longhorns prepare to face Southwest at Bartley Friday, Lenners said they will continue to concentrate on the fundamentals.
He wants to see the backs improve their blocking and execute their fakes better.
On the offensive line, we wants to see more sustained blocking. Defensively, the corners and safeties need to overcome some blown assignments that resulted in touchdowns.
They also need to concentrate on execution to eliminate penalties. Several crucial penalties in the first half squelched drives.
Southwest will be coming off a come-from-behind 26-25 win over Loup City in their opener last Friday.
Lenners said they have good size on the line and an experienced backfield.
They use the pistol formation, which is similar to the shotgun except that the quarterback is only two to three steps behind center.
They run effectively and like to pass, Lenners said, adding it’s essential for the Longhorns to improve their pass rush this week.
Game time at Bartley is set for 6 p.m. MT Friday night.
Longhorns score first
The Longhorns drove inside the Holyoke 30 on their opening drive but a holding penalty left the Longhorns with a 1st-and-25 from near the 40.
The Longhorns couldn’t pick up the first down, giving the ball to Holyoke on their own 24.
The defense forced a three-and-out, setting up a 64-yard scoring drive for the Longhorns.
After picking up three first downs, the Longhorns were faced with a 4th-and-9 at the 25.
Misael Garcia pulled down a reception good for 17 yards and the first down.
Sophomore back Steven Fish went in from eight yards out on the next play to give the Longhorns the lead.
Garcia added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
Holyoke was forced to punt after moving into Longhorn territory, giving the Longhorns the ball at their own 12.
The Longhorns put together a 13-play drive, highlighted by six runs of eight yards or more by the backfield.
Despite a holding penalty that nullified a touchdown and moved the ball back to the 15, the Longhorns still punched it in. Fullback Jeremiah Lueth ran in from eight yards and Grant Lenners added the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 3:24 left it the half.
The defense forced Holyoke into another three-and-out and the Longhorns got the ball on their own 35 with 2:21 left in the half.
Using good clock management through the passing game, the Longhorns got on the board on the final play of the half.
Quarterback Alex Strand found Fish in the end zone with a five-yard pass. Lenners added the extra point to give the Longhorns a comfortable 21-0 halftime lead.
Longhorns answer in second half
Neither team found offensive success early in the third, trading a pair of possessions that included an interception by the Longhorn’s Daniel Regier.
The Longhorns fumbled away a Holyoke punt at midfield and one play later, Holyoke completed a 45-yard pass to get on the board. A two-point conversion failed, keeping the Longhorns up 21-6 with 4:30 left in the third.
It didn’t take the Longhorns long to answer.
Starting at their own 35, they needed just six plays and two minutes to go back up 28-6 with Jakob Burke getting the score from a yard out. Garcia added the extra point kick.
After a kickoff return to Imperial’s 44, Holyoke needed just three plays to get back on the board, scoring on a 25-yard run.
A successful two-point conversion made the score 28-14 with 1:07 still left in the third.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Longhorns were driving again. A 22-yard run by Fish took the ball to the Holyoke 9 and Michael May got the score on the next play, Garcia’s kick gave Imperial a 35-14 lead with 11 minutes left.
Holyoke would get their last score on the next possession on a 38-yard pass play. A two-point conversion made the score 35-22, which is where it ended when the final buzzer sounded.
The Longhorns amassed 455 yards on the ground and 55 in the air while holding Holyoke to just 55 yards rushing and 161 yards in the air.
Defensively, Tanner Stromberger led the team with a total of 10 tackles. Regier and Garcia each added interceptions.
Stats at a glance
Tackles (solos-assists)—Tanner Stromberger 3-7, Paul Gaschler 3-3, Daniel Regier 3-2, Tyler Roenfeldt 3-2, Alex Strand 2-3, Daniel Hogsett 2-3, Trevor Fuehrer 3-0, Charlie Haarberg 2-1, Jeremiah Lueth 2-1, Nathan Hinojosa 2-1, Jonathan Hess, 1-2, Keithan Cochran 1-2, Misael Garcia 0-3, Jakob Burke 1-1, Lucas Bauerle 1-0, Steven Fish 0-1.
Rushing (attempts-yards)—Paul Gaschler 16-132, Steven Fish 27-165, Misael Garcia 11-55, Jeremiah Lueth 12-57, Alex Strand 5-15, Jakob Burke 6-21, Michael May 1-10.
Receiving (attempts-completions-yards-TD)—Steven Fish 4-4-38-1, Misael Garcia 1-1-17-0, Paul Gaschler 0-1-0-0, Daniel Regier 0-1-0-0.
Passing (attempts-completions-yards-interceptions-TD)—Alex Strand 5-8-55-0-1.
CCS: Steven Fish 8 yd. run, kick by Misael Lopez good.
CCS: Jeremiah Lueth 8 yd. run, kick by Grant Lenners good.
CCS: Fish 5 yd. pass, kick by Lenners good.
Holyoke: Kyle Carper 45 yd. pass, 2-pt. conversion failed.
CCS: Jakob Burke 1 yd. run, kick by Gardcia good.
Holyoke: Brett Cumming 25 yd. run, 2 pt. conversion pass to Brok Pelle good.
CCS: Michael May 9 yd. run, kick by Garcia good.
Holyoke: Ryan Baumgartner 38 yd. pass reception, 2 pt. conversion pass to Carper good.
CCS 7 14 7 7—35
Holyoke 0 0 14 8—22