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Demons haunt Spartans

Spartans unable to exorcise Demons in 33-18 loss
Solon's Blake Timmons takes the snap from center Zach Harp on Friday, Sept.4, at Spartan Stadium during the Spartan's 33-18 loss to the Washington Demons.

SOLON – The Washington Demons haunted the Solon Spartans football team for 48 minutes of football for a 33-18 win on Friday, Sept. 4, during Armed Forces Night at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, stopping Washington on its first drive and then Solon was stopped on its first drive, iterating the strength of both teams’ defenses from the onset.
Washington drew first blood and went up 7-0 with a little less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Solon drove 71 yards in six plays, culminating in a reception and dash by Colton Hoffman off a pass by Blake Timmons, to tie game at 7-7, in attempt to make a statement, with 00:00 atop the scoreboard.
The Demons rebounded to the top of the scoreboard, 14-7 with about 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
With 6:20 remaining in the half, a Solon field goal by Brent Lumpkin had the Spartans nipping at the Demons’ heels, 14-10.
A big run by Washington quarterback Trashaun Willis put the Spartans back on their heels, catapulting the Demons to a 21-10 lead.
With 3:00 aglow on the clock, it appeared Jackson Ryan dashed into the end zone with the ball extended before him until a flag on the field revealed a costly penalty which negated the play. Momentum stolen, the Spartans were unable to duplicate the magical score.
However, the Spartan defense swarmed the Demons’ Willis several times, sacking him before the expiration of the half to give Washington something to ponder during half time, while holding a 21-10 lead.
Both teams remained scoreless during the third quarter, stopping one another’s drives with sound defense.
The Demons extended their lead to 27-10 at the start of the fourth quarter as the Demons’ Spencer Sotelo got a step on the Spartans’ Hoffman on a reception. The point-after went wide, offering the Spartans a glimmer of hope but as the quarter closed. The Demons added another six, while Solon put up eight total for a 33-18 final.
“Washington is a good football team,” Head Coach Lucas Stanton, coaching his second game of his first season, said via email. “We knew that coming into the game. They were much more efficient offensively than they were in game one. They were a little more physical than we were on both sides of the ball and that was certainly disappointing to see.
“We failed to get ourselves off the field on some key third-down situations and offensively we failed to finish drives in the red zone,” he added.
The Spartans need to finish drives off and continue to make strides offensively, Stanton said. “We had 300 yards of offense, but left points and more yards out there than we want to, obviously. We need to be more effective in the red zone. Overall, defensively we were not happy with our performance. We gave up the big play and couldn't get ourselves off the field at crucial times.”
But there were some bright spots. Stanton was pleased with multiple players on offense.
“I thought Blake Timmons showed a lot of toughness and grit taking some hits and coming through on some keys throws and runs,” he said. “Jackson (Ryan) has been a steady bright spot for us. Nash Altman showed a lot of toughness fighting through an ankle injury the other night playing (offensive line). We had multiple guys come in for some players with injuries and we felt like they stepped up.”
Timmons completed 13 of 25 passes for 183 total yards with no interceptions, two aerial scores, and rushed 17 times for 47 total yards.
Ryan carried the ball 15 times for 65 total yards, while Hoffman and Carson Miller each had two carries for four yards and a loss of five, respectively.
Timmons’ receivers of choice were Hoffman with four catches for 96 total yards, Miller with six catches totaling 65 yards and a two-point conversion, Ben Kusick with two catches for 14 total yards and Ryan with one reception for eight total yards.
Defensively, Carson Shive recorded 6.5 total tackles, credited for six solo tackles; Hayden Taylor amassed 4.5 total tackles, four of them were solo; Lucas TePoel collected four solo tackles, two of them sacks for loss; Hoffman racked up three solo tackles; Jacob Timmons, Miller, Tyler Hancox and Ethan Swan recorded 1.5 tackles apiece with all credited for a solo apiece; Bo Janssen, Lucas Kampman, Zach Harp and Ben Cusick all recorded a solo tackle apiece; and Austin Quaintance and Erich Karsten earned a half tackle apiece.
Ryan and Parter Pentico returned kicks for the Spartans with Ryan responsible for five returns for 121 total yards and Pentico a solo return for 10 yards. Ryan also was credited for a punt return for no gain.
Tyler Hancock punted three times, amassing 96 yards.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, senior Bo Janssen was lost due to injury early in the game.
“It was tough losing Bo early,” Coach Stanton commented. “Bo is a senior leader for us and a heck of a player. We don't know (his) exact status but he will be out for a little while.”
He assured the Spartan faithful the team remained in good health.
“Other than that, we don't have anything out of the ordinary for a football season,” he said. “We had a few guys banged up after the game but nothing too serious other than Bo.”
Injuries are just a consequence of the game this early in the season, he said. “It's football, injuries can happen at any time during the season.”
The Demons went eight for 13 passing for 149 passing yards in the game, scoring one touchdown through the air. The Spartans rushed 37 times for 111 total rushing yards while the Demons remained on the ground with 27 rushes, amassing 187 total yards.
The loss moved the Spartans to 0-2 on the COVID-affected season and moved the Washington Demons to 2-0 as district play begins Friday, Sept. 11. It was Solon’s first loss to the Demons since the Sept. 25, 2015, regular season game when the Spartans were in Class 3A and floundered, 28-14.
Coach Stanton is not pleased with the season’s start and believes his players deserve that first win.
“Yeah, you know you never want to be 0-2, whether it's a new job or not,” he confessed. “It's obviously not the start we wanted, or expected, but we can't dwell on it. We have to be better.”
But he doesn’t think there is reason to panic.
“No doubt, we would rather be 2-0 or even 1-1,” he said. “As coaches we need to stay focused and positive and continue to work. Our program needs to worry about the four walls inside our program. The only thing I'm concerned about is getting that first win for our kids.
“We have a group who is showing glimpses of being a special team but we are not consistent right now,” he added. “Ultimately, it's on me to get our kids and staff to perform better.”
The Spartans commence district play on Friday, Sept. 11, as they travel to LaPorte City, visiting Union High School to battle the Knights, also sitting at 0-2 thus far this season.
The Knights’ junior quarterback Grant Behrens is 17 of 36 passing attempts this season for 180 total yards and one passing touchdown compared to Timmons’ 15 of 33 for 243 yards and three touchdowns. Hoffman leads the Spartans’ receiving corps with six receptions for 133 total yards and the three touchdowns versus Union’s Brenton Tompkins with 10 catches for 103 total yards.
Rushing may be the highlight of the game at Union as Solon’s Ryan enters the game with 25 carries for 171 total yards and one rushing touchdown, matching up to the Knights’ senior Jacob Carey with 10 rushes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Coach Stanton sees the challenge ahead and welcomes it as an opportunity.
“Union has some good skill kids offensively and defensively,” he said. “They will use some (tight end) formations on offense to try to create extra gaps in their run game. Defensively, they have been a three-man front that will do some stunting/blitzing.”