By Travis Mounts
A 20-point second quarter helped the Garden Plain football team take over in the Owls’ 55-24 homecoming win over the Belle Plaine Dragons.
Friday’s win improves the Owls’ record to 6-1, and 5-0 in Class 2A District 6. Garden Plain is one game ahead of Kingman, which the Owls beat a couple of weeks ago. The Owls are in a good position to win the district outright in this week’s regular-season finale, as they travel to Leon to play the Bluestem Lions, who are winless and just lost to Kingman last week 81-0. Bluestem, a former member of the Central Plains League with the Owls, has lost six games by 56 or more points.
The Dragons led the Owls twice early in the game, taking a 3-0 first-quarter lead on a 22-yard field goal.
The Owls responded while still in the first quarter, capping a scoring drive with a 9-yard rush by Reed Adelhardt, his first of three touchdown runs.
Belle Plaine regained the lead, 10-7, in the second quarter on an 11-yard pass. But Jeb Nowak’s 53-yard scoring run put the Owls’ ahead 14-10, and Garden Plain would not trail again.
“They did a nice job early moving the ball,” Garden Plain head coach Dan Adelhardt said of the Dragons, adding the penalties on the Owls helped. “They have some nice receivers. They were challenging our safeties.”
The Owls followed up with 27 more unanswered points in the second and third quarters. Reed Adelhart scored on a 32-yard run, and Kade Rockers threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Colby Haukap for a 27-10 halftime lead.
Tranden Daerr made his return to the lineup known with a pair of touchdowns to start the third quarter. He ran 10 yards for one score, and passed 26 yards to Travis Scheer for the other, giving the Owls a 41-14 edge.
Anthony Hays scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter, and Adelhardt added a 1-yard score as the Owls extinguished the Dragons.
Coach Adelhardt said the coaches challenged the players to put together a more complete game against Belle Plaine.
“I felt like we did that…and avoided some of the needless mistakes,” he said. Good kick returns helped the offense, as did Daerr’s return although Rockers took all the snaps at quarterback.
“Kade and Tranden are capable of leading the team. It’s not always in the stats. They do a great job of supporting each other,” Adelhardt. That, in turn, sets the tone for the rest of the team.
Garden Plain gained 468 yards to 356 for the Dragons. The Owls got a career game from Adelhardt, who ran for 191 of the Owls’ 346 rushing yards. Nowak nearly hit the century mark as well, with 96 rushing yards. Daerr added 38. Rockers was 4-for-6 passing for 96 of the Owls’ 122 passing yards. Daerr completed his only pass attempt. Haukap had two catches for 67 yards, and Scheer gained 55 yards on three carries. Haukap added an interception on defense.
This week practices are about maintaining focus and continuing to challenge themselves, Adelhardt said..