With both teams entering Friday’s contest in Osceola with top seven rushing attacks in all of Class 2A, both coaching staffs knew coming in that the battle would be won in the trenches.
Red Oak’s physicality won out as the Tigers mounted several crucial drives on their way to 17-3 win on a damp night in Osceola.
The game, originally scheduled to be played in Red Oak, was moved to Osceola due to particularly damp conditions and several inches of rain accumulating in much of Iowa last week.
While Clarke was able to press the issue in the run game at times, untimely penalties and several miscues slowed the offense down. The Indians accumulated just 81 yards of offense after compiling 627 yards over their first two games.
“Obviously they had scored over 80 points in their first two games,” Red Oak head coach Ryan Gelber said. “We knew our work was cut out for us, but staying true to some of our principles got it done tonight. “
Those principles included being strong at the point of attack, holding position between the tackles and plugging up the gaps in Clarke’s front seven to muddy up any running lanes the Indians might have developed.
Payton Winship ended up with 28 rushing yards to lead Clarke, with most of those yards coming on the final drive when he was taking shotgun snaps.
Fani Fry added 22 rushing yards and Riley Domina ran for 11.
Red Oak continued feeding the ball to its trio of determined backs, Carter Maynes, Codie Bentley and Justin McCunn, as the Tiger offensive line kept demonstrating its brute strength between the tackles. The Tigers ended up with 322 rushing yards, led by 144 from McCunn, 106 from Bentley and 80 from Maynes.
“They were physical. We knew that they were going to be physical and we could see that on film,” Clarke coach Duane Matthess said. “We were hoping that we could match their physicality, it just didn’t work out that way.”
“Physicality, something that we try to press all year long,” Gelber said. “We have a good core group of offensive linemen and backs.”
Clarke plunged through the Clarke defense for a 33-yard drive by way of seven straight run plays, capped by Maynes’ 5-yard plunge for a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Clarke proved steadfast enough to garner several stops of the Tigers before breaking through on the scoreboard for a Brian Avalos 25-yard field goal following a fumble recovery by Dalton Stubbe that gave Clarke possession Red Oak’s 34.
Too many times, Clarke was unable to pick up positive yards on first and second downs, creating unfavorable third-and-long chances.
“If we’re going to be successful, we have to keep our third down … in a manageable situation,” Matthess said.
While Clarke was not able to keep Red Oak from ripping off chunks of yards, the Indians’ tackling did limit Red Oak’s chances at bigger plays.
Zane Hart led the Indians with 16 tackles from his defensive end spot. Taven Floyd registered 14 tackles at inside linebacker and Domina added 12 more from his safety position.
After a stop on Red Oak’s first possession of the third, the Indians limited the Tigers to a Kyndal Kells field goal with 2:46 remaining in the third.
The Tigers put the game away with Carter Bruce’s quarterback sneak score with 6:46 to go in the contest.
“We’ve got to flush it at this point. We can’t let it affect us into this next week,” Matthess said. “We’ve got to move on to Mount Ayr and expect to compete at a really high level against them. It was the same message we had to our kids when we beat Martensdale(-St. Marys) and we beat Nodaway Valley.”
UP NEXT — Clarke (2-1), plays its final non-district game at Mount Ayr (2-1), which is coming off a 20-12 win over Central Decatur.
Red Oak 17, Clarke 3
Points by quarter
RO 7 0 3 7 — 17
Cl 0 3 0 0 — 3
RO – Carter Maynes 5 run (Kyndal Kells kick), 7:19.
Cl – Brian Avalos 25 kick, 4:56.
RO – Kells 35 field goal, 2:42
RO – Carter Bruce 1 run (Kells kick), 6:46.