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Knights’ regular season ends with 26-16 loss to West Marshall, prepare for postseason

October 25, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

The Union Knights were unable to take the District 7 title outright as their offense failed to travel with them to State Center in a 26-16 loss to the West Marshall Trojans, settling for a three way tie atop their District and an automatic berth in the state playoffs.

"We saw they had a great quarterback, but there's nothing we saw that we didn't on tape and everything we had trouble with tonight was stuff we prepared for," Hadachek said. "They had proper execution. It came down to us making the tackle and not letting them have second, third opportunities."

Essentially a District title game, Union and West Marshall battled defensively before Kaleb Roach broke through to set up a 1st and goal in the Trojan redzone. Brayden Grosse punched in a five-yard run and two-point rush to put the Knights up by eight late in the first quarter. But nothing else came as easy as that drive for the Knights as the Trojans struck back with a touchdown in the last minute of the quarter. West Marshall relied on their star quarterback, Cameron Bannister, both on the ground and through the air, to give them two additional scores in the second quarter to go up 20-8 at halftime.

Article Photos

Silver Schmitz with a clutch catch for a first down late in a District matchup between the Knights and West Marshall. Schmitz has 39 yards on four receptions in the game.

"We had trouble getting in sync and could not get anything going that first half other than a nice drive by Grosse," Hadachek said. "A fumble set us back in that first half. We couldn't produce on any typical drive, which put our defense on the field a lot. I told them we have to do our basic things better. We made a few adjustments, but nothing mind-blowing. It came down to fighting for ourselves and a district title."

Offensive woes slackened in the third quarter, but the Knights were still unable to put together long enough drives to find the endzone or close enough for a field goal. Meanwhile, Bannister ran for a short two-yard touchdown as the quarter wound down, pushing Union to find another way to even the score.

"Their quarterback made some big plays," Hadachek said. "We had trouble stopping fade routes and stopping the ball, and we have to do a better job."

After going two full quarters without a score, quarterback Dylan Felderman found Grosse in the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown and Bryce Parker converting on the two point play via Felderman. Showing the most life they had all half, the Knights made a defensive stop to gain reasonable field position and threatened another score midway through the final quarter. A costly missed catch by Silver Schmitz after making a 13-yard reception two plays earlier gave the Trojans the ball back and a chance to bleed out the clock the rest of the way.

"That interception set us back, but West Marshall played better all night," Hadachek said. "Now we have to get ready for the postseason."

The defense was led in tackles by Kyle Gross with 9.5 tackles, followed by Roach with seven tackles and Levi Gray and Ben Rempe with five tackles apiece. Roach led offensively with 96 yards on 19 carries and 22 yards on three carries. Grosse also had yards on the ground and through the air with 54 yards on nine carries and 26 yards on four carries. Schmitz had 39 yards on four carries. Felderman would finish 10 for 18 completion for one touchdown and one interception.

"Dylan rebounded in the end and I was proud of his effort," Hadachek said. "Brayden was bottled up in that first half while he's a bit banged up, but he's a competitor and will fight back. He'll be ready for next week."

A three way tie between Benton Community, West Marshall and Union meant each would play another week, which left the Union faithful to wait on who they would play after tough district play and a 4-1 record.

"This is a great compliment to our district," Hadachek said. "Going into district play, you don't quite know what to expect, even though we've played against some of these teams before. If I'm not mistaken, we are the only district with a three way tie and I attribute that to the three teams at the top. West Marshall, Union and Benton beating each other shows a lot about the district."

On Saturday morning, the Iowa High School Athletic Association released bracelets for the first round of playoffs, with Union traveling to Waukon (7-2) on Friday, Oct. 26.

"Waukon is a solid program, very unpredictable on offense to prepare for and fundamentally sound on defense," Hadachek said. "There's not really any weaknesses to their scheme."

The Knights have faced the Indians in the regular season the past three years, for a 1-2 record, but even the familiarity doesn't change the the approach Hadachek plans for the postseason.

"Obviously with playing someone you've faced before, you know what to expect in terms of facilities, distance, atmosphere," Hadachek said. "However, I feel those are non-factors in terms of this game. Nothing will change with our approach. We still have our day-by-day approach and same preparation. It comes to our kids buying in to preparation for a big game."

The 2018 postseason marks the 11th consecutive time the Knights have reached the playoffs under Hadachek, a streak few in the state rival.

"I feel our streak means we have a solid foundation in place and I give all the glory to God for our success," Hadachek said. "It's been a tremendous ride these past 11 years. There's a lot of work put in to get to that level consecutively and the expectation is there. It's a process that starts in the offseason and our kids understand there's a level of work from then to now that needs to be occur in order to make this happen."

Union will play with several injuries on the team. Carter Asmussen did not return in the West Marshall game and Benton Behrens has an ACL tear. Grosse took a hit in the game, but continued to play against the Trojans. Other injuries linger for the Knights.

"We're far from 100 percent healthy and this happens to be one of those seasons you go into postseason a bit banged up," Hadachek said. "Isaiah Jackson, who hasn't played more than one game for us, is being missed. I was happy Ben Behrens was able to play for us with a brace. He's a fighter and will play if he can."

Kickoff for the game at Waukon is set for 7 p.m. Check back with the Dysart Reporter in next week's issue for a recap of Union's playoff action.



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