Nighthawks take victory in battle of defending champs
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley’s defense creates turnovers to silence Western Christian’s offense in the second half
HULL-The Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley versus Western Christian football game to start the season is an annual event, but the Aug. 25, 2017, version of this rivalry had a bit more flare to it as both teams were coming off state titles in Class 1A (Western Christian) and 2A (Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley). It was also the first time defending state champions from the year before met each other in a Week 1 matchup in state history.
The first half had the fireworks one would expect from a game of this magnitude, but the Nighthawks made the correct adjustments on defense to silence the Wolfpack offense in the second half to take a 49-14 non-district football victory Friday.
Western Christian won the opening coin toss and elected to defer their options to the second half, allowing the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley offense to take the field first. That ended up working in the Nighthawks’ favor as they marched 80 yards down the field that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Van’t Hul to Jaden Den Boer. Logan Block made the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 9:45 left in the first quarter.
“I’m so proud of them (the boys) for how they executed that first drive. One of our goals is to always score on that first drive. It’s something we think is important,” said Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley coach Cory Brandt. “We always want to come out of the gate right away and do things well. I thought our kids did an outstanding job of executing that. I’m very proud of how they were ready to go from the get-go.”
The Wolfpack took the following kickoff to the 30-yard line to begin the second drive of the first half. Western Christian went right to one of its bread-and-butter players, running back Ben Granstra. He ran the ball six times on the drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run. The point after by Kobi Baccam was good to tie the score at 7 with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley’s next drive ended in a quarterback sack on fourth down, giving the ball back to Western Christian on its own 42-yard line. After an incomplete pass and a run for no gain, quarterback Carter Broek found an open Travis Solsma for a 58-yard pass through the air for another touchdown. Baccam’s kick gave the Wolfpack a 14-7 advantage with 48 seconds left in the first period of play.
The Nighthawks, however, did not take long to respond. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley used a 40-plus-yard run from Brayton Van Kekerix before a 29-yard touchdown scamper by Van’t Hul capped off the two-play drive. Block’s kick tied the score at 14-14 with 24 seconds left on the first-period clock.
Following the kickoff, the Wolfpack got off four plays before the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley defense forced a Granstra fumble that was recovered by Brandon Roemeling for the Nighthawks. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley quickly made Western Christian pay as Van’t Hul hit Cade Moser on a go-route for a 31-yard strike through the air. Block’s kick gave the Nighthawks a 21-14 lead with 10:29 left in the first half.
“It was pretty simple: the defense set up the offense,” Brandt said. “We just felt our receiver had the advantage on the matchup. Cade did an outstanding job of executing and J.T. just put it right on him. It’s good to get those quick scores and big plays when you can get them from time to time.”
The Wolfpack went three-and-out on its next drive, setting up the Nighthawk offense at the Western Christian 46-yard line. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley ran into some trouble with penalties — one illegal formation and an offensive pass interference call — but overcame those miscues as Van’t Hul found an open Den Boer through the air for a 41-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-17 play. Block’s kick gave the Nighthawks a 28-14 lead at halftime.
Despite the final two scores, Western Christian coach Travis Kooima was pleased with how his team played in the first half.
“As a team, I loved the way we started the game. We did a lot of good things in the first half on both sides of the ball,” the coach said.
But the Wolfpack ran into trouble on offense in the second half and Western Christian had the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley defense to thank. On a third-and-9 play to start the second half, the Wolfpack went with a run up the gut. But the Nighthawks forced a fumble that was recovered by Roemeling of Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley at the Wolfpack 22-yard line. The Nighthawks then used four plays to put Elliot Van Kekerix into the end zone on a 3-yard run. Block’s kick made the score 35-14 in favor of Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley with 9:19 left in the third period.
Western Christian went three-and-out on its next drive and was forced to punt. However, the Nighthawk special teams got good pressure up front to block and recover the kick on the Wolfpack 29-yard line. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley then turned that into points on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Van’t Hul to Riley Teunissen. The extra point by Block gave the Nighthawks a 42-14 lead going into the final 12 minutes of play.
With the large lead, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley emptied its bench and put its second-team offense and defense onto the field in the fourth quarter, before the final score of the game came off an 8-yard touchdown pass from Keyton Moser to Isaac Munoz. Block’s kick accounted for the 49-14 final.
Coach Brandt noted his defense did a good job making plays and adjusting to what the Western Christian offense was trying to do after the first quarter. The Wolfpack were held to just 56 yards on the ground and 139 yards through the air. Overall, the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley defense forced three turnovers in the contest and held the Wolfpack to 195 total yards on offense.
“They just made plays. Coach (Heath) Swanson puts them (the boys) in the right spots, they make the right plays and I thought they played extremely hard,” Brandt said. “Granted we made some mistakes (in the first quarter), but we also learned from those mistakes in that first quarter and got better from that point on.”
Meanwhile, the Nighthawks’ offense had 449 yards total offense with 239 coming through the air and 211 coming on the ground. Brandt said the Nighthawks did their work in the trenches.
“With five new linemen there is a lot of learning that’s going to go on and when you are playing a good team, it’s going to be tough. But I thought the linemen did a great job of stepping up,” Brandt said. “There will be a ton of stuff to improve on from here, but they did an outstanding job of opening up some running lanes and they did a good job of protecting J.T. for the first night out.”
For Western Christian, coach Kooima said his team has plenty of time to fix its problems before next week’s game against Akron-Westfield.
“This was a game of turnovers and big plays. We had some costly turnovers and, defensively, we had some mental breakdowns. All our mistakes tonight are things we can fix,” Kooima said. “We just need to get back to work next week and take advantage of our opportunity to practice all week next week.”
The Nighthawks’ next game will be on the road against West Lyon. The last time these two teams played a year ago, the Wildcats defeated Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 20-19 in overtime, so coach Brandt knows this game may be one of, if not the biggest, test his team will face this season. The Wildcats defeated arch-rival Central Lyon/George-Little Rock in the annual Beef Bowl 41-0 Aug. 25.
“We’re excited for the next contest, but we’re playing a ridiculous team in West Lyon. I feel that’s the best team in the state of Iowa in all classes. We’re going to have to play our best football because this is going to be a challenge, without a doubt,” Brandt said.
Total offense:Western Christian 195 yards, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 449 yards
Passing:Western Christian 11-of-21 for 139 yards, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 16-of-27 for 238 yards
Rushing:Western Christian 30 attempts for 56 yards, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 43 attempts for 211 yards
First downs:Western Christian 9, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 24
Penalties:Western Christian 4 for 20 yards, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 10 for 65 yards
Fumbles:Western Christian two fumbles and lost both, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley fumbled two but lost none
Interceptions:Western Christian 1, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 1
Punting:Western Christian 6 for 178 yards, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 2 times for 53 yards
Individual statistics Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley
Passing:J.T. Van’t Hul 13-of-23 for 196 yards, four touchdowns and one interception; Keyton Moser 3-for-4 for 42 yards and one touchdown
Rushing:Elliot Van Kekerix 13 attempts for 66 yards and one touchdown, J.T. Van’t Hul 12 attempts for 46 yards and one touchdown, Brayton Van Kekerix one attempt for 36 yards, Isaac Munoz nine attempts for 29 yards, Billy Rankin two attempts for 27 yards, Keyton Moser two attempts for 4 yards, Beau Solberg four attemps for 3 yards
Receiving:Cade Moers five catches for 84 yards and one touchdown, Jaden Den Boer three catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, Dylan Harman two catches for 26 yards, Blake Parks one catch for 20 yards, Brayton Van Kekerix two catches for 18 yards, Isaac Munoz one catch for 8 yards, Riley Teunissen one catch for 6 yards, J.T. Van’t Hul one catch for 2 yards.
Kicking:Logan Block 7-for-7 on extra points
Punting:Beau De Jongh 2 punts for 53 yards
Punt return:Isaac Munoz two attempts for no yards
Kickoff return:Cade Moser one attempt for 23 yards
Individual defense:Austin Rozeboom two solos, seven assists, one solo tackle for loss, one assist tackle for loss; Billy Rankin two solos, five assists; Kaden Willemssen two solos, four assists; Jaden Den Boer two solos, one assist, one solo tackle for loss; Riley Teunissen one solo, three assists, one solo tackle for loss; Brayton Van Kekerix one solo, six assists; Elliot Van Kekerix two solos, two assists, two solo tackles for loss; Beau Solberg one interception; Brandon Roemeling two fumble recoveries.
Individual Western Christian statistics
Passing:Carter Broek 11-of-20 for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception, Dawson Feenstra 0-for-1 for no yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions
Rushing:Ben Granstra 15 attempts for 37 yards and one touchdown, Carter Broek nine attempts for 13 yards and no touchdowns, Cole Habben four attempts for 10 yards and no touchdowns, Matias Vande Hoef two attempts for -4 yards and no touchdowns
Receiving:Travis Solsma four catches for 85 yards and one touchdown, Carter Kooi one catch for 24 yards and no touchdowns, Cole Habben two catches for 16 yards and no touchdowns, Caleb Harmsen two catches for 16 yards and no touchdowns, Cole Zevenbergen one catch for 3 yards, Ben Granstra one catch for -5 yards
Kicking:Kobi Baccam 2-for-2 on extra points
Punting:Harry Steele 6 punts for 178 yards
Punt return:Cole Habben one attempt for no yards
Kickoff return:Travis Solsma 3 attempts for 62 yards, Cole Habben 3 attempts for 41 yards
Individual defense:Ben Granstra four solos, two assists; Carter Wibben five solos, six assists, one interception; Caleb Harmsen five solos, two assists; Daniel Donovan five solos, three assists; Austin Haak two solos, one assist, one quarterback sack; Brennen Moss three solos, one assist, one quarterback sack; Tanner Miedema one assist and one quarterback sack.