Washington has to slow down Winterset's Kaldenberg
Washington head football coach Randy Schrader was very pleased with how his team’s defense played in Wednesday’s first-round playoff win over Norwalk. The Demons played tough, physical football and limited the 10th-ranked Warriors to just 143 yards in the 28-14 victory.
“They were big, but we matched it,” Schrader said. “I was impressed with our kids. We really got after them.”
The Demons (7-3) are going to need that same type of effort when they travel to Winterset on Monday for a Class 3A second-round playoff game. The Huskies (7-3) feature a running back, senior Noah Kaldenberg, who has rushed for 1,381 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
“They’ve got a good run game,” Schrader said. “They’ve got a good back. He’s really quick. He has great balance. He finds the hole well and he finishes off runs. He’s just a good, tough back. They utilize him like they should and try to get the ball in his hands.”
The Huskies put the ball in Kaldenberg’s hands nearly 23 times per game.
“Noah kind of stirs the drink for us at running back,” Winterset head coach Zach Sweeney said. “He’s our workhorse.”
So the Demons must know where No. 20 is at all times.
“You’ve got to get hats on 20,” Schrader said. “I mean, I don’t know if one guy is going to necessarily tackle him because he runs so hard and he has great balance. But we do a good job of getting a lot of hats on the football. So as long as we rally to the ball, we’ll be OK.”
The Huskies have some other weapons, too. Senior quarterback Cory Briney ran for two touchdowns and threw a key 63-yard touchdown pass to senior Lucas Nolan in Winterset’s 28-7 win over Fairfield at Charles McGaffin Field on Wednesday night. Briney has completed 52 percent of his passes this season for 1,093 yards and 11 touchdowns, but has been intercepted 10 times.
“Their quarterback has a good arm,” Schrader said. “They pose problems for people. If you shut down the run, he’s going to throw the ball on you. One of the problems we had in that Centerville game is we were busting some coverages at times, and we had some busted coverages last night that they didn’t convert on, too. So we just have to stay sound.”
Nolan is also a dangerous player. He not only caught the long touchdown pass from Briney in Wednesday’s game, but also intercepted three passes from his cornerback spot, returning one 50 yards for a touchdown. Nolan has seven interceptions on the season, and he’s also returned two punts for touchdowns.
“He was in the right place at the right time, and he has a knack when he gets the football in his hands to return it,” Sweeney said of Nolan. “Hopefully we can keep getting the ball in his hands.”
Schrader said that the Huskies have some athletic players.
“They’ve got some athletes,” he said. “Winterset has always been noted for great wrestling in the past. I don’t know how they’ve been in the past few years, but they’ve always had tough kids coming out of Winterset.”
On the other hand, Sweeney is worried about Washington’s athletic squad.
“It looks like they’re a fast team,” he said. “They’re a physical team. And a well-coached team. We’re going to have to be ready to go. We expect a hard-fought 48-minute game.”
Sweeney said that he hasn’t quite figured out how to slow down Washington’s option attack, which averages 235 yards per game on the ground. And Winterset’s defense has been susceptible to the run this season, giving up 175 rushing yards per game.
“Right now how to slow them down is definitely a work in progress,” Sweeney said. “They did a nice job against Norwalk, so we’ll take a look at that. It will probably start with us trying to get after the guy with the most carries, and that looks like [Alex] Coker. Then from there they present some tough matchups with three or four guys who can carry the ball and four guys with six touchdowns or more. We’re definitely going to have our hands full.”
The Demons’ quick backs totaled for 335 rushing yards in Washington’s win over Norwalk on Wednesday. Coker ran for 134 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, and junior Carl Sivels added 103 yards and two scores on 10 attempts. Junior Tanner Knupp gained some tough yards in the Demons’ Wildcat formation late in the game, and finished with 69 yards on 14 carries. And sophomore quarterback Daryn Sebelius ran for 24 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts.
Sebelius also showed that the Demons could be dangerous through the air, going 9-for-13 for 133 yards and completing a key 29-yard pass play to senior Justin Hoffman late in the game that helped the Demons salt away the victory.
But the Demons prefer to keep the ball on the ground with Coker, Sivels and Knupp. And Winterset will try to put the ball in Kaldenberg’s hands as many times as possible. So look for much of Monday’s game to be played between the tackles.
“It’ll be a grind-it-out type of night,” Schrader said. “But that’s OK with us.”