North Tama earns first win of the season, 34-18 over AGWSR

Dostal’s pick 6 fires up Redhawk Country

North Tama’s Josh Dostal (5) smiles while making his way through the AGWSR endzone with the ball after picking off a Cougars’ pass late in the first quarter to score the Redhawks’ first touchdown of the game last Friday night at Dennis Field in Traer. Dostal’s teammate, Tyler Popelka (50) runs along behind him. North Tama won the Week 3 district pairing against AGWSR, 34-18 for their first win of the 2023-24 season. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

TRAER – North Tama earned its first win of the season last Friday – and first win ever under new head coach Andrew Knaack – taking down AGWSR, 34-18 in an exciting District 3 game featuring a late first quarter pick 6 by Josh Dostal that fueled the team’s subsequent success while firing up Redhawk Country.

“It always feels good to get the first win of the year,” Coach Knaack told the Telegraph on Sunday. “I am proud of the boys this week. We put in a game plan … started a little slow in that first quarter and then we got rolling after a few bad turnovers … We need to do a better job of not turning the ball over. [But] we did get going and started playing Redhawk football.”

During North Tama’s somewhat sleepy start – at about halfway through the first quarter – AGWSR managed to pick off a pass by Redhawk quarterback Andrew Knaack before later scoring a touchdown and putting the first six points of the game on the Dennis Field scoreboard.

But in what proved to be the beginning of a momentum shift — after a much-needed Redhawk first down which was frustratingly followed by a fumble recovered by the Cougars — North Tama tight end Josh Dostal picked off a pass by the AGWSR quarterback which he returned for a 39-yard touchdown run amid the din of Redhawk Country’s cheers.

While the conversion was no good, the moment served to not only fire up the hometown crowd but also the Redhawk roster, providing a heavy dose of confidence in the wake of last winter’s decision by the school board to keep the team at Class A football for the time being.

North Tama’s Josh Dostal, left, is swarmed and congratulated by his teammates including (l-r) Gavin Rausch (7), Clayton Williams (8), Jared Dvorak (partially hidden), Kolt Knaack (4), and Kaidon Cannon (54) in the AGWSR endzone after scoring a pick 6 and putting up the Redhawks’ first points of the game during last Friday’s District 3 pairing played at home in Traer. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

In the second quarter, the Redhawk offensive line really showed their worth with Dostal again scoring. After receiving from Andrew Knaack, he ran it 24 yards into the endzone. Josh Dvorak notched two more points for North Tama on the conversion, putting the score at 14-6.

Also during the second quarter, running back Tyrus Luker returned an AGWSR punt for an impressive 27-yard run, a run which employed a series of nimble twists and turns that allowed him to evade at least three Cougar tackles.

With around a minute left in the first half and the Redhawks still up by eight, Dostal notched another successful reception, putting North Tama at the 2-yard line. He then secured what could have been his third big play of the night – a pass from Knaack in the endzone – but the touchdown was nullified by a penalty against the Cougars.

With 35 seconds remaining before the half, Dvorak caught the 2-yard pass for the touchdown, bringing the score to 20-6 and capping off one of the best quarters in Redhawk football this season.

“Those four guys [Josh Dostal, Jared Dvorak, Andrew Knaack, Tyrus Luker] did play well,” Coach Knaack said. “Kolt and Josh have been making plays like that since they started playing together in third grade. Jared and Tyrus had a game themselves. They really stepped up big time on Friday and it was fun to see them get into the endzone.”


While the North Tama ‘fab four’ most certainly caught the attention of anyone keeping even just one eye on Friday’s game during the second quarter, Coach Knaack said much of those plays might not even have come to fruition without the work of his tough offensive line and running back Gavin Rausch.

“We have to give credit to the offense line to give these guys an opportunity to make plays. … Another guy that may not show up on the stat sheet but makes plays for the rest is Gavin Rausch – he gets the hard yards and blocks like a lineman in the backfield.”

In the third quarter, Kolt Knaack ran in a 1-yard touchdown to which the Cougars answered with their second touchdown of the evening. The Redhawks maintained the lead, 28-12 heading into the final quarter.

The fourth opened with another quick touchdown by North Tama – their final points of the game. With the score 34-12, the Cougars recovered a Redhawk fumble which they later converted into a touchdown. The final score was 34-18.

After being shut out by the Cougars last season in a brutal road game, Week 3’s win this season over AGWSR means a lot to his small but mighty Redhawk team including the coaching staff.

The Redhawks take to Dennis Field for the first time this season with the 1917 school building in the background. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

“We know we can score points and stop the other teams,” Coach Knaack said. “It showed up in the second half of the [Week 2] Nashua-Plainfield game and came into the AGWSR game.”

Against the Cougars, Knaack was 18-for-26, throwing for 210 yards to six receivers for two touchdowns while also keeping the ball 16 times for 17 yards and a touchdown.

Josh Dostal caught the ball three times for 64 yards and a touchdown, Brayton Cibula fielded six times for 63 yards, Luker fielded four times for 46 yards, Jared Dvorak caught the ball once for a 2-yard touchdown, and Clayton Williams received once for a 28 yard gain.

Rausch was the rushing leader Friday night for the Redhawks, carrying the ball 18 times for 44 yards, while Luker carried four times for 34 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, both Josh Dostal and Tyler Popelka led the team with 5.5 tackles. Dostal notched once interception for a 39-yard touchdown. Jared Dvorak recorded two interceptions for a combined gain of nine yards. Dvorak also converted twice for four points.

Redhawk football head coach Andrew Knaack walks the sideline while retired head coach and current assistant coach Tom McDermott, right, looks out onto the field. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

This week, the Redhawks will return to Dennis Field for Homecoming. The team is set to face BCLUW (0-3) in another District 3 pairing. Last year the Redhawks narrowly lost to the Comets on the road, 26-20.

“We are a good team but can’t look past anyone,” Coach Knaack said when asked to comment on the upcoming schedule. “BCLUW on Friday night for Homecoming will be a good opponent and the next one on the schedule [Wapsie Valley] we have to be ready for.

“It is Homecoming [which adds] extra excitement. The crowd [last Friday] was awesome – hopefully we can bring that excitement again this Friday night.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept.15 in Traer.

Redhawk quarterback Kolt Knaack (4) looks for a passing opportunity while his running back Gavin Rausch (7) prepares to block against AGWSR early in the Friday, Sept. 8 game played on Dennis Field in Traer. Knaack threw for 210 yards for two touchdowns while keeping the ball 16 times for 17 yards and a touchdown. Rausch was the rushing leader for North Tama, carrying the ball 18 times for 44 yards. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER



"That's good enough for a Redhawk [pause for effect] FIRST DOWN!" as Keith Kennedy, the voice of the Redhawks, would say. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Redhawk head coach Andrew Knaack, center, alongside assistant coaches Brice Girkin and Gabe Kopriva stands on the sidelines next to retired North Tama head coach Tom McDermott who came back this season as a member of the coaching staff. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Redhawk Kolt Knaack attempts to tackle Cougars running back Kaden Abbas (24) early in the game against AGWSR. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

North Tama's Josh Dostal (5) sprints away from an attempted takedown on his way to a pick 6 last Friday night on Dennis Field against the AGWSR Cougars. Dostal's TD would put North Tama on the scoreboard for the first time that evening. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Redhawk Josh Dostal raises the ball in his hands after what he thought was a good touchdown late in the second quarter. The TD was unfortunately nullified by a penalty against the Cougars. PHOTO BY SOREN M. PETERSON

North Tama's Jared Dvorak (3) catches a 2-yard pass for the touchdown late in the first half against AGWSR last Friday - bringing the score to 20-6 and capping off one of the best quarters in Redhawk football this season. PHOTO BY SOREN M. PETERSON