Redhawks romp past the Comets

North Tama senior quarterback Gabe Kopriva (1) unloads a pass on the run over the outstretched defense of BCLUW’s Nick Feldpausch (20) during Friday’s Class A District 3 football game in Conrad. The fourth-ranked Redhawks rolled to a 36-0 victory. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

North Tama has, up to this point, had a charmed 2021 season of football.

The Redhawks are ranked No. 4 in the Class A standings with a now 6-0 record thanks to a fun, high-flying offense led by seniors Gabe Kopriva and Devin McKinley to just name two of the team’s many contributors.

But the Redhawks faced more adversity Friday night at BCLUW than the 36-0 scoreline against an 0-6 team will let on — two key offensive players were ejected from the game for getting two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, Michael Schrier missed much of the game with an undisclosed injury picked up in the first half, and the Redhawks were met with a physical performance from the Comets.

It was by no means a perfect game from North Tama, as head coach Taylor Wurth made clear after the game.

“We haven’t had a lot of adversity. We’ve played so well, and tonight adversity hit,” Wurth said. “At times, we just haven’t experienced that yet. It was good for us, it’s a learning opportunity and moving forward all we can do is learn from it and try to get better.”

North Tama’s Michael Schrier, top, nearly hauls in a touchdown pass as BCLUW’s Tyler Bracy (28) delivers the hit at the goal line during Friday’s football game in Conrad. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

It took the Redhawks over eight minutes to get on the board in the first quarter as McKinley scored the first of his three touchdowns on a touch pass from Gabe Kopriva. The Redhawks took an 8-0 lead, and then minutes later added to the lead with a short swing pass to McKinley to push the score to 16-0 after the first quarter.

The second quarter involved a fourth-down stand from BCLUW and then a subsequent fourth-down stand from North Tama, and a score from the Redhawks with less than two minutes to play in the first half to make it 22-0, this time on another McKinley flip from Kopriva. McKinley was ejected in the final minute of the half due to two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a 20-second span, both for talking to referees. Wurth had a discussion with the refereeing crew at halftime.

The third quarter was short on action, as both teams traded empty possessions until an Adam Greiner touchdown reception put the score at 30-0. The score remained that way early in the fourth quarter, although BCLUW kept fighting.

BCLUW is winless so far in Luke Sommerlot’s first year at the helm, but he said after the game Friday that his group is starting to figure things out on the field.

“We’re playing with a super young team and we just fought a really good team,”Sommerlot said. “It builds encouragement with a night like tonight, even though the scoreboard is really lopsided, we went out there and fought really hard.”

Photo by Noah Rohlfing

Halfway through the fourth quarter, Aiden Zook was ejected from the contest for his second unsportsmanlike penalty. This came after a brief tussle between Zook and a BCLUW player following a play in which Zook was tackled near the BCLUW 10-yard line. Zook and McKinley will miss next Friday’s game against Wapsie Valley. Wurth said his heart went out to the duo and that he loves when they play with their hearts on their sleeves, but called it a learning opportunity.

Kopriva capped off the scoring one play later, running it in from 25 yards out to put a bow on the 36-0 win.

He said postgame that the work done this summer has paid off for the Redhawks and led to their hot start to the season.

“We definitely put in the work this offseason,” Kopriva said. “Everybody’s just more as a team now, last year we all felt like we were playing for ourselves sometimes. This year we’re a good team.”

North Tama hosts Wapsie Valley for Senior Night next Friday, while BCLUW hosts No. 5 Grundy Center.