Redhawks hammer Huskies on HOCO

Redhawks wide receiver Michael Bell (right) runs the ball down Dennis Field for a touchdown right out of the gate Friday night while his teammate Michael Schrier (left) watches his flank. It was the first play of the night in North Tama’s Homecoming game against Nashua-Plainfield. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The Redhawks handily harnessed the Huskies Friday night, beating Nashua-Plainfield 50-22 for a Homecoming win that provided the crowd with plenty of stellar action to cheer about.

The Redhawks retained their Class A fifth spot ranking this week and are now 4-0 with district wins over AGWSR, Hudson and Nashua-Plainfield plus a non-district win over Belle Plaine.

Head Coach Taylor Wurth was more than proud of his team following their win at Dennis Field Friday evening.

“The boys have been successful because of their physicality,” Wurth said. “We aren’t the biggest team, but we play with the biggest hearts, and we have some fun while we do it.”

Indeed, the Redhawks roster does not boast many players above 200 pounds. In fact, only five linemen on the North Tama roster are listed above the 200-pound threshold, some even significantly less.

North Tama senior Aiden Zook (11) has his teammate Devin McKinley’s (2) back after McKinley put up an exceptionally good run early on in the game against Nashua-Plainfield Friday night. McKinely had a great night against the Huskies receiving seven passes for a total of 129 yards and two touchdowns. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

But that hasn’t stopped the Redhawks in the slightest. The squad is a cohesive unit, clearly evidenced by this season’s rise of quarterback Gabe Kopriva, who trails only Montezuma’s all-state quarterback Eddie Burgess in passing yards (1,111) through the first four weeks of the season.

“We are all just a cog in the wheel of success,” Wurth said when asked to comment on Kopriva’s ranking. “Gabe has made some amazing plays this year and is playing extremely well. We are putting up some great yards and points, but it’s not possible without each player doing their job and being a star in their role.”

Friday night’s game began hot right out of the gates for the Redhawks. On their very first play, Kopriva connected with wide receiver Michael Bell who ran it in for the first touchdown of the game.

The announcer — clearly in awe like many in attendance — simply proclaimed of the quick play, “That was very fast, very smart.”

Wide receiver Devin McKinley was also tearing up the field in the first quarter — and throughout the game. A reception and run he made early on earned an animated congratulations from Coach Wurth.

Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Kopriva threw for 326 yards Friday night — 18 of his 28 attempts were good. He was also the rushing leader for the night with 112 yards and three touchdowns, followed by senior Aiden Zook with 39 rushing yards.

Four receivers lit up the field for the Redhawks. Kopriva connected with Bell six times for 139 yards, with McKinley seven times for 129 yards and two touchdowns, with Michael Schrier four times for 55 yards and with running back Aiden Zook once for a three yard gain.

Just before halftime, an impressive series of plays by the Redhawks offense and defense took place.

Following a reception by Bell, a would-be touchdown for McKinley was called back due to a penalty. Kopriva and the Redhawks offense punched it in on a goal line quarterback-keeper, putting the score at 22-0.

On the following sequence, the Redhawks onside kick from Kopriva was successfully recovered by Schrier that set up North Tama on the 45-yard line, energizing both teammates on and off the field.

North Tama Head Coach Taylor Wurth runs onto Dennis Field after his team just ahead of kickoff Friday night. The 5th ranked Redhawks took on Nashua-Plainfield in their Homecoming game, beating the Huskies 55-22. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Repeated shouts of “Michael Schrier’s my hero!” from the sidelines approached a near state of frenzy. In the wake of the onside kick, Kopriva then ran it in on the ensuing drive for his second touchdown.

The two-point conversion was good as well — and fun to watch — as the ball passed from Kopriva to tight end Adam Greiner to Zook who found the end zone.

Kopriva, Bell and Homecoming King Nathan Kucera also recorded two-point conversions during the game — one apiece.

The score at halftime was 30-0.

The Redhawks defense was animated as well Friday night — 20 players recorded one or more tackles for a team total of 50 against the Huskies.

North Tama starting quarterback Gabe Kopriva appears to put his mental game in check just moments ahead of kickoff last Friday night during the Redhawks Homecoming matchup with Nashua-Plainfield. Kopriva put in another stellar night of football with his team and is now second in the state for passing yardage at 1,111 yards. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker.

Zook led the defense with nine tackles, followed by linebacker Logan Rausch with seven. Kucera clocked six tackles and Bell finished with 4.5.

Four Redhawks also came away with interceptions including Kopriva, McKinley, Greiner and Schrier. McKinley’s interception led to an 84-yard touchdown.

The game was not without a healthy share of yellow flags being thrown — reminiscent of last week’s game against the Hudson Pirates.

There were so many penalties it seemed like the Redhawks offense couldn’t get through even one play without a whistle going off, causing many fans to question the validity of what they were witnessing.

But the game ended on a high note for the Redhawks and they’re now gearing up for a tough, non-district, home match-up this week with the Saint Ansgar Saints — a team North Tama has never played in its history.

North Tama quarterback Gabe Kopriva (1) throws his first pass of the game last Friday against Nashua-Plainfield, a pass which connected with wide receiver Michael Bell who ran it in for a touchdown. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

“The second half of our season is as tough as anyone’s in the state for Class A,” Wurth said. “Saint Ansgar is coming off a tough loss to a very good Newman team, and they will be extremely motivated to get back on track.”

The Saints currently sit at 2-2 with wins against West Fork and North Union and losses to Osage and Newman Catholic.

Kickoff is this Friday at 7 p.m. in Traer.

Michael Schrier (43) gives his teammate Michael Bell (42) a thumbs up after Bell ran in a touchdown on the first play of the evening last Friday night. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Quarterback Gabe Kopriva completes an onside kick that was picked up by Michael Schrier. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The North Tama Redhawks offense led by quarterback Gabe Kopriva (1) huddle up on Dennis Field Friday night in their Homecoming 2021 game against Nashua-Plainfield. The Redhawks were still ranked 5th in Class A for the second week in a row. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama Head Coach Taylor Wurth keeps a close eye on the game from the sidelines Friday night as the sun begins to set on Dennis Field in Traer. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

North Tama center Ryan Hosek (63) sets up the Redhawks offense for a play early in the first quarter Friday, September 17 at Dennis Field in Traer. The Redhawks beat the Huskies in their Homecoming game 50-22. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

That’s a touchdown! Quarterback Gabe Kopriva is somewhere beneath the pile of players after running in his first touchdown of the night for the Redhawks just ahead of halftime Friday night in North Tama’s Homecoming matchup with Nashua-Plainfield. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

North Tama takes a water break Friday, September 17 on Dennis Field during their Homecoming game against the Nashua-Plainfield Huskies. Head Coach Taylor Wurth (center) is also pictured. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The North Tama Redhawks are ranked 5th in Class A. Photo by Soren M. Peterson