Redhawks keep it rolling with win 39-29 over Saints

Kopriva moves up to number 1 for passing yards

Redhawks senior all-purpose back Devin McKinley (center) powers into the end zone during Friday’s game against Saint Ansgar for the touchdown. North Tama defeated the Saints 39-29 at home for their fifth win of the season, cementing their fifth place ranking and helping propel starting quarterback Gabe Kopriva to number one in passing yardage in the state (1458 yards). Photo by Soren M. Peterson

North Tama kept it rolling at home this past Friday with their fifth win of the season, 39-29 over the Saint Ansgar Saints.

It was a tougher fight than the Redhawks have become accustomed to this year as the first four games were each won by more than two touchdowns.

The team briefly found themselves in the unfamiliar position of trailing their opponent in the first quarter, but found a win nonetheless over the Saints who fell to 2-3.

The Redhawks retained their fifth place ranking going into Friday night’s game at Dennis Field — just ahead of sixth ranked Grundy Center who they’re slated to play on October 15 at Grundy Center in the regular season finale.

Head Coach Taylor Wurth has been readying his team for what’s to come.

North Tama Head Coach Taylor Wurth (right) speaks to seniors Aiden Zook (11) and Devin McKinley (2) during a third quarter time out against Saint Ansgar Friday night on Dennis Field. Both Zook and McKinley have proven themselves leaders on the field this season. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

“We have three huge district games to close the year, with two of them being against the top two teams in the district. We have a lot of work left, but I believe in my guys,” Coach Wurth said.

All the focus Friday night was on the task at hand and it paid off.

Redhawks starting quarterback Gabe Kopriva is now ranked number one in the state for passing yardage with 1,458 yards, having bypassed Montezuma’s Eddie Burgess who sits at 1,341 yards after a slow night at the office against Southeast Warren last Friday.

Kopriva completed more than 77 percent of his passes against the Saints — throwing for 347 yards — 17 of his 22 attempts were good.

The number one passing quarterback in the state successfully steered the ball Friday night to five different receivers including tight end Adam Greiner for 129 yards across four receptions and one touchdown, wide receiver Devin McKinley for 88 yards across six receptions and two touchdowns, running back Michael Schrier for 81 yards across two receptions and one touchdown, running back Aiden Zook for 37 yards across two receptions, and Michael Bell was good for 5 yards across three receptions.

Redhawks quarterback Gabe Kopriva (1) keeps the ball and heads down field to a fourth quarter North Tama touchdown last Friday night in Traer. Kopriva led the Redhawks rushing game against the Saints with nine carries across 62 yards and one touchdown. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

In addition to passing, Kopriva led in rushing against the Saints with nine carries across 62 yards and one touchdown.

Aiden Zook was close behind his starting quarterback with eight carries across 52 yards and one touchdown.

Senior McKinley put up two carries across 11 yards to round out the Redhawks rushing game.

On defense, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Aiden Zook was on fire, tallying 17.5 tackles — 10 of those solo — against the Saints whose roster outnumbers the Redhawks by a full 10 players and boasts at least twice as many players in the 200-pound range.

Senior linebacker Logan Rausch was close behind Zook with 10.5 tackles (six solo), followed by Schrier with seven tackles (two solo), and McKinley with 5.5 tackles (three solo). Kopriva, Greiner, and sophomore Ryan Hosek each contributed 4.5 tackles apiece.

Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Aiden Zook and defensive linebacker Nathan Kucera picked up one Saints fumble apiece, while Zook also picked up one interception.

In the fourth quarter — with the score sitting at 32-14 — the Saints scored a touchdown after a hard fight for it and were good for the extra point.

With under nine minutes remaining, Kopriva answered the Saints with the keep and a touchdown in the back right end zone from the 22 yard line. The extra point was good, putting the score at 39-21.

The Saints matched with their final touchdown of the evening putting the score at 39-29.

It was a tense final seven minutes that remained — the Redhawks fumbled and the Saints recovered putting them on the 45 yard line. But the Saints were ultimately short and North Tama took over on downs with just over four minutes left.

Photo by Soren M. Peterson

There were plenty of yellow flags thrown around most of the evening — a common theme during this Redhawks season, warranted or otherwise — but junior Michael Schrier seemed to be doing all he could between plays to keep the defensive line on point — constantly talking to them and giving intricate field positioning instructions.

The Redhawks closed out the game with a win 39-29 over the Saints at 10 minutes to 10 p.m.

“I am extremely proud of our guys,” Coach Wurth said after the game. “Explosive plays on [offense] and never letting up on [defense] is a recipe for success. Our strength is our senior leadership and the heart we play with. They continue to not be satisfied and strive to be better.”

North Tama will be on the road this week, taking on the BCLUW Comets (0-5) in a district matchup.

The Comets dropped games this year to East Marshall (0-23), Hudson (0-45), AGWSR (14-42), ninth ranked North Butler (7-41), and Nashua-Plainfield (6-38).

The North Tama student section and cheerleaders celebrate the Redhawks fifth win of the season just moments before the clock ran out Friday night on Dennis Field in Traer. The Redhawks beat the Saint Ansgar Saints 39-29 in a game Coach Taylor Wurth referred to as “hard fought.” Wurth tweeted following the game, “Student section has rocked it all year, thank you.” Photo by Soren M. Peterson

The Redhawks are 17-7 with the Comets dating back to 1987. The two teams have played each other every year since 2012 with North Tama currently on a five-game winning streak.

Kickoff this Friday is in Conrad at the high school beginning at 7 p.m.