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Union dominates Benton 34-6 in District opener

September 27, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

After weathering two straight losses at the hands of Charles City and Dike-New Hartford, Union football scored a statement win over third ranked Benton Community on Friday, Sept. 21, cruising to a 34-6 win behind their unrelenting defense and one of their best offensive outings of the season.

"I feel our focus this past week was on ourselves," coach Joe Hadachek said. "These couple losses we felt we killed ourselves in a couple of areas-special teams, offense and defense-and had to keep fixing ourselves. I was happy with how our kids responded this week in practice."

Benton Community came to La Porte City ranked third in 2A by the Iowa High School Athletic Association's new RPI system, having outscored South Tama, Cascade, CPU and Wilton 134 to 52. Previously a 3A program, the Bobcats were moved down to 2A for this and next season. This matchup marked the district opener for both programs.

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Dylan Felderman threw for 101 yards as the Union Knights downed Benton Community 34-6.

"We said it was a pivotal game and realistically with three losses this early, it could be have been the end," Hadachek said. "The only guarantee for the postseason is to run the district. It's like a new season, and I felt our non-district games prepared us well."

The Knights scored quickly, getting first possession of the ball in the opening quarter and struck with a 59-yard run courtesy of Kaleb Roach. Brayden Grosse tacked on a two-point conversion to further cement Union's early lead with 10:20 on the clock in the first quarter. Union would find the endzone again in the quarter as Grosse scored on 1-yard run, but unable to make another two-point conversion via Dylan Felderman. While the offense was clicking for the Knights, the defense came up with a play of its own as do-it-all Britt Rolison took an interception back for a 30-yard touchdown with one minute left in the half, sending Union into the locker room up 20-0.

"We're blessed by having a player like Britt," Hadachek said. "He's a great individual and team guy that does a lot of stuff. You look at his height and weight and you laugh, but if you watch him play, you'll be crying. He's legit and a big-time athlete."

But the Knights had seen this before. In their season opener, Union was up 20-0 at home over Beckman Catholic only to watch the lead dwindle behind two touchdowns by the Blazers. However, the Knights didn't let up as Gross punched in another one-yard touchdown to extend Union's lead to 27-0. Roach would also find the endzone again with a one-yard run of his own to put the Knights at 34-0 with 7:21 left in the game.

"Kaleb has become a great leader, our best leader as far as talking to the guys," Hadachek said. "He's still a great running back for us. Once we get some holes, he picks up momentum and grinds on you. Give him a crease and his legs going, he's tough to bring down."

While the Union defense kept Benton from scoring for three and a half quarters, the Bobcats managed a 58-yard pass play to get down the field and punch in a touchdown on that drive with 5:31 to go.

"Our defense played lights out tonight," Hadachek said. "We gave up a big pass for a score, but credit Benton for not quitting. They have a great staff, are fundamentally sound and they aren't going to stop. We have not come out of the locker room and played well all year, but this third quarter we did."

While tackling stats were not available, the Knights recorded two interceptions by Rolison in their dominate win. Another huge defensive play of the night was a sack by Ben Rempe near the end of the second quarter to put the Bobcats at 4th and 26 which gave Union life for their third touchdown of the game.

"Ben Rempe is a tremendous kid," Hadachek said. "He made a position switch from tight end to offensive tackle and probably no one noticed that. When I asked him to make the switch, he told me he had already been thinking about. He's unselfish, a quiet leader and I'm extremely happy with him."

The Knights totaled 359 yards of offense, led by Roach who rushed for 132 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, followed by Brayden Gross with 110 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Rolison have two receptions for 93 yards to go with 25 yards rushing on five carries as the two seniors continued to step up for the Knights, but didn't do it alone.

"We had 21 seniors step up with leadership and it's something we've been saying to them, that great team has great leadership," Hadachek said. "We're still questioning and working on leadership, but as long as they are willing to grow, we'll continue to make progress."

Next up for the 3-2 Knights will be Homecoming week as they host Roland-Story on Friday, Sept. 28. Though celebrating a big win for the program, Hadachek hopes to get the ball rolling in practice soon.

"Roland-Story is a good ball club with some scholarship kids and Homecoming can be highly distracting for kids," Hadachek said. "The big thing I told our kids is to enjoy this win for 24-48 hours and then focus on next week because we can get better. We will embrace Homecoming and we need our fans to come to support us. We're honoring our 2011 State Championship team, so we hope to have a great turnout for that. It's another game, but we have to set our focus and do our jobs if we're going to get better."

The 2018 Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned during a community pep rally at 2:15 p.m. on Friday and will also be introduced again before the game, along with their parents escorting them.



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