Wildcats rout Knights in Friday night’s season opener
By LaDonna Swedberg
The Wallace Wildcats couldn’t have scripted a better season opening game. Though not perfect, the Cats looked pretty impressive. From the opening kickoff up to the final buzzer, Wallace not only controlled the game, they dominated.
South Platte set up to receive the opening kickoff but Josh Grauerholz booted the ball into the end zone for no return. The Knight offense took the field only to be moved back by a very aggressive Wildcat defense. South Platte was forced to punt after a three and out but they got the ball back when the punt hit a Wildcat and the Knights recovered. The defense again stopped the Knights in three downs which led to another punt.
The Wallace offense took the field with great field position following a short punt. The Wildcat backfield utilized the openings the line was creating and marched their way into the end zone. John Marquardt went the final five yards for the TD. Landon Swedberg added the two-point conversion and Wallace jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead.
South Platte once again struggled against the tough Wildcat defense and it appeared to be another three and out. The Knights, however, were able to turn a bad snap to the punter into a 22-yard gain for a first down. They continued their drive down to the Wallace five-yard line when Jeff Harms came up with a big interception.
Harms snagged the ball at the two-yard line and returned it all the way to the South Platte 22 yard line. A few plays later, Marquardt found Taylor Doell open in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown reception. Marquardt then ran in for the two-point conversion for a 16-0 Wildcat lead.
Following the touchdown, South Platte’s Kris Kopetzky was back deep to receive Grauerholz’s kick. He took the deep kick at the four-yard line and after fumbling the ball he picked it up and went the distance for a Knight touchdown. The first quarter ended with Wallace up 16-6.
The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board in the second quarter. On the first play Marquardt again spotted an open Taylor Doell running down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Marquardt used his hot hand to complete another pass to Andrew Gardner for the extra two points.
The Wallace defense continued to be tough, stopping the Knight offense and forcing another punt. A fumbled reception gave the ball right back to South Platte so the defense did it again, another three and out.
The Wallace offense had not lost any momentum. When they took the field again, they struck quickly. Marquardt found an opening and scampered 47 yards for another Wildcat touchdown. The defense wasn’t ready to slow down either, they kept the Knights from getting any positive yards which forced another South Platte punt. However, a bad snap caused the Knights to turn the ball over and the Wildcats had the ball on the Knights four-yard line.
On the first play of the series, Josh May followed his blockers for another Wildcat touchdown. May also ran for the extra two points to put Wallace up 38–6. Before the first half came to an end the Wildcat defense remained relentless and the offense couldn’t be stopped. Marquardt was able to score another 13-yard touchdown just before the half.
The second half went rather quickly due to a running clock. Wallace began their opening drive of the half on their own 24-yard line. The Cats were able to move the ball down the field but three different penalties lengthened the drive.
Doell was the Wildcat who crossed the goal line with a seven yard run. May added the two extra points to put the Wildcats up 54- 6. South Platte’s offense got off to a good start on their first possession of the half, they were able to get two first downs in a row but then the Wildcat defense made their presence known. The Knights lost yardage the next three plays and had to punt.
The fourth quarter provided a great opportunity for the younger Wildcats to get some game experience. The pace of the game, however, did not change with the change in personnel. Wallace put together a great drive that Josh May completed when he found an opening for an 18-yard run. The young defense continued the domination over the Knights, allowing them no first downs and forcing them to punt yet again.
The amount of enthusiasm that rushed the field was a good indication that the JV squad wasn’t ready to call it quits just yet, they put together one final drive. Tanner Clough found his way across the goal line for one last touchdown and Dillon Koop added the two-point conversion to make the final score 68-6.
Wallace had a very successful night moving the ball with 336 total yards of offense. John Marquardt was the offensive leader for the Wildcats with 121 rushing yards on 10 carries and he was 4 for 6 passing for 76 yards.
Josh May contributed 79 yards rushing on 12 carries while Taylor Doell was the receiving leader with 61 yards on two receptions which both scored touchdowns.
The defensive leaders for Wallace were Jeff Harms with three unassisted tackles and seven assisted followed by Mark Jameson with two solos and six assists.
The Wildcats will travel to Chappell on Friday to take on the Creek Valley Storm.