Redemption for the Redhawks: North Tama earns first win over BP since 2012

North Tama Head Coach Taylor Wurth (right) channels the mythical high school football coach Eric Taylor of the television series “Friday Night Lights” as he gives his team one final pep talk ahead of the Redhawks’ season opener in Belle Plaine Friday night. Wurth listed off Taylor’s famous mantra “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” repeatedly to his team who then went on to win their game against the Plainsmen 31-14. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama opened the season Friday with a win against Belle Plaine.

The Redhawks took down the Plainsmen 31-14 on the road in a powerful performance that left little doubt that both their offensive and defensive lines are up to the task this season.

Coach Taylor Wurth — in his second year at the Redhawks’ helm — liked what he saw.

“I am so dang proud of the physicality our boys brought tonight,” Wurth said via email. “This was a team win, we needed all 11 of us out there to be successful. I was confident in my guys going into the game, and I’m even more confident moving forward.”

The Redhawks had not won a game against the Plainsmen since 2012 — Friday night’s win ended a four-game losing streak.

North Tama cheerleader Brooklyn Johanningmeier is all smiles Friday night just prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff as North Tama opened its season on the road against Belle Plaine. The Redhawks won the game 31-14. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff, Wurth channeled the mythical Coach Taylor from the hit television series Friday Night Lights during his pregame pep talk.

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” Wurth exclaimed repeatedly to his boys as they gathered around him near the endzone in the sweltering August heat. It was a phrase made famous by the television character more than a decade ago.

Whether it was the stirring pep talk or just good old fashioned hard work, the Redhawks spent much of the game in possession of the ball.

Senior quarterback Gabe Kopriva led the offense Friday having a hand in each of North Tama’s offensive touchdowns.

Kopriva was 11-of-23 passing with two passing touchdowns and one interception. He also led the run game with 69 yards on seven carries and the team’s only rushing touchdown.

North Tama’s senior starting quarterback Gabe Kopriva warms up his arm just moments ahead of kickoff Friday night in Belle Plaine. Kopriva had a stellar game against the Plainsmen with 235 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Several Redhawks receivers got their hands on the ball against Belle Plaine as Kopriva connected multiple times with four different teammates through the air.

Devin McKinley led the game with 74 yards on three receptions and one touchdown. Junior Michael Schrier was right behind with 72 yards on four receptions and a touchdown.

Seniors Adam Greiner and Aiden Zook each brought down two receptions for a total 11 completions by the Redhawks.

Greiner and Zook also excelled on the defensive end, which is where the Redhawks made their mark against Belle Plaine.

The Plainsmen were held scoreless in the first half thanks to smothering defense by the Redhawks.

The Redhawks’ Adam Greiner reaches for a pass Friday night early on in North Tama’s season opener against the Belle Plaine Plainsmen. Later in the fourth quarter Greiner made a 12-yard interception and took it in for a touchdown. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Zook led the defense with 11.5 tackles and together with Ryan Hosek was a part of the team’s only sack of 6’3 senior quarterback Ben DeMeulenaere.

Greiner meanwhile contributed 4.5 tackles, two of them going for a loss, as well as a 12-yard interception that was taken in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Other leading tacklers for North Tama were Logan Rausch with 7.5, McKinley with 7 and a fumble recovery, Schrier with 6.5,

and Nathan Kucera with 5.

Belle Plaine’s offense managed to find the ignition switch in the second half as they attempted to rally with one unanswered touchdown in the third quarter and one more in the fourth.

Both Plainsmen scores came on short yardage, goalline runs as DeMeulenaere was thoroughly flummoxed in the passing game, completing only five passes for 67 yards and no touchdowns.

Starting quarterback Gabe Kopriva readies for what would be the Redhawks’ first touchdown pass of the evening. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama meanwhile had their game firing on all cylinders with their special teams unit successfully converting two-point plays after each touchdown. Two-point conversions came courtesy of Greiner, Schreir, and Rausch.

The Redhawks will take their Week 1 momentum into a matchup against AGWSR Friday at Dennis Field in Traer.

The Cougars got a win over Belmond-Klemme in their opener, 21-6. The task this week looks to be stopping a running game that excelled in AGWSR’s opener. Last season AGWSR was one of the top running teams in Class-8 behind senior back and 1,600-yard rusher Jaden Penning.

The playbook seems to be the same in 2021 as the Cougars have reloaded with senior running back Cale Culver who rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

Through the QuikStats Era dating back to the mid 00s, North Tama and AGWSR have faced each other twice with the Cougars winning in blowout fashion in 2014 and 2015.

Following a North Tama touchdown early in the first quarter, the Redhawks defensive unit lines up for the Plainsmen’s kickoff. Linebackers Michael Bell (second from right) and Michael Schrier (right) ready themselves for the play. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Kickoff in Traer is set for 7 p.m. Friday evening.

North Tama’s Devin McKinley sets out toward the goal line late in the second quarter after catching a pass from quarterback Gabe Kopriva. McKinley’s run would set up the Redhawks for their second touchdown of the night. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama Coach Taylor Wurth (center) advises his team shortly before halftime following a successful two-point conversion by Logan Rausch (crouched, right). Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama Head Coach Taylor Wurth. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

The Redhawks take a water break as the sun starts to set Friday, August 27, 2021 in Belle Plaine. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker