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Spartans fall to Raiders, 17-14

A field goal thwarts Spartan victory in season opener

SOLON– The Solon Spartan varsity football team took their first dip in Class 2A waters against the Williamsburg Raiders on Friday, Aug. 28, and found it fraught with competition as a season-opening win was stolen from it courtesy of a 20-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining, in the fourth quarter, by Williamsburg Raider junior Alex Marovets for a 17-14 victory over the Spartans. It was the Raiders’ first win over Solon since 2011.
The kick that delivered the Raider win was a cherry on a 10-unanswered-point sundae Williamsburg put together in a six-minute rally late in the game.
The complexion of the game was different than previous seasons, peppered with hydration and sanitization breaks, an interruption which will require some adaptation but, albeit humid, it was a return to some semblance of normal, though the stands lent the appearance of some sort of surgeons’ reunion due the county’s COVID-19 requirement of masks.
“It was fun just to be back out under the lights on a Friday night,” Solon Head Football Coach Lucas Stanton commented. “I honestly didn't think about that part of it. I told our seniors earlier in the week this is about them and getting them to play. It was pretty special for our kids to get back to some normalcy during all that's happened in the last five to six months. There has been a lot different with the COVID preventative measures because, everything we do in terms of operations, you are constantly thinking about if there is something COVID-related we should or shouldn't be doing.”
Stanton defended the hydration and sanitization breaks as something to simply prepare for.
“It definitely affects the game,” he said. “But it's just another thing you have to practice and get our team ready for. Those extra breaks have its pros and cons, just as TV timeouts do at the college level. It does give us extra communication and I think our coaches did a good job of communicating during those.”
Williamsburg won the coin toss, choosing to defend the south endzone, but Solon controlled the ball much of the first half of play, amassing 152 yards to the Raiders’ 84 yards.
At the end of the first quarter, the game was still knotted, 0-0, however.
Colton Hoffman gave Solon the lead on a 23-yard pass from Blake Timmons capped by a Brent Lumpkin point-after.
At the half, the resurgent Raiders tied the game at 7-7 as Williamsburg’s Levi Weldon hit Gable Dayton for a 20-yard passing score sealed with Alex Marovets’ point-after.
Solon built a 14-7 lead at the end of three quarters, adding seven after a Jackson Ryan ran 21 yards for a touchdown and Lumpkin split the uprights, but lost some momentum near the end of the quarter plagued by a series of penalties stealing any momentum they may have built.
The Raiders redoubled their efforts and rallied to end the game for a 17-14 victory, scoring twice in the fourth quarter, with a 2-yard pass from Williamsburg quarterback Levi Weldon to John Steinmetz and an extra point by Marovets, and the 20-yard field goal, on a fourth and goal from the three, by Marovets with just 1:35 remaining.
The Spartans collected 12 first downs, to the Raiders’ nine, rushing the ball 40 times for 177 yards, compared to the Raiders’ 27 carries for 53 yards. Solon went three of 10 passing, for 74 yards, with one interception, the nail in the Spartans’ coffin at the end of the game, allowing the Raiders to kneel out the win, versus Williamsburg’s 11 of 20 for 134 yards with no interceptions.
The Spartans fumbled the ball once without losing it and the Raiders mishandled two, losing one.
The first-game-of-the-season mistakes cost the Spartans 60 yards, as they committed nine penalties versus Williamsburg’s five penalties for 25 yards.
“Not to take anything away from Williamsburg as they took advantage of their opportunities and we did not,” Coach Stanton summarized. “But we really came away from that game and film disappointed, as we felt like we beat ourselves. We just had too many mistakes in all three phases of the game. You can't do that in those types of games and expect to win. That being said, we still had our chances. We had penalties that sustained their drives and penalties that hurt us sustaining our drives.”
“Our kids played with great effort and intensity all game,” Coach Stanton said. “Our tackling was much improved from the scrimmage. We also liked what we saw in our (offensive line) blocking in terms of their physicality. We just have to clean up some technical things.
“We saw a lot of great things and believe this team has the makings of being pretty special,” he added. “Some of the mistakes are completely unacceptable and as a coach and staff that's on us and we have to be sure we are doing better in practice on those.”
Solon quarterback sophomore Blake Timmons rushed 13 times for 17 yards and completed two of eight attempts passing for 60 yards, while junior Kinnick Pusteoska rushed once for a yard and completed one of two passes for 14 yards, giving away an interception.
Spartan senior Jackson Ryan rushed nine times for the Spartans accumulating 105 yards, junior Hayden Taylor scrambled five times collecting 26 yards, senior Lucas TePoel handled the ball five times collecting 14 yards, senior Colton Hoffman rushed five times for 13 yards, and junior Jake Quillan rushed twice for 1 yard.
Hoffman and TePoel were the receiving targets with Hoffman pulling in two catches for 37 yards and TePoel grabbing a solo catch fro 37 yards.
“Some standout individual performances were Carson Shive on defense and Jackson Ryan on offense,” Coach Stanton assayed. “Both played like experienced seniors. I also think both will tell you that they would credit their defensive line and offensive lines for their individual success on Friday night.”
Coach Stanton also pointed to several performances in the game he felt were exceptional and balanced those with a few he looks to affect in the future.
“Defensively early in the game, Carson ran down a run on the sideline and really stuck the offensive player who was being wrapped up by Danny,” he said. “That set the tone early for us defensively. His pursuit to the ball and how he arrived are the way we coach our defense up.”
“There are two-three plays I wish we could have back for sure,” he continued. “I think that's pretty natural in any game but you can't really live that way. We have to learn from it and move forward. We can't dwell on those for too long or we can't progress.”
Coach Stanton summarized, “One of the positives as a staff we really took away was our team’s energy and intensity during the game. (It) was not lacking from the very first series. Even when we gave them great field position to set up their field goal late, our defense showed resilience in holding them out of the endzone. That is never easy on a defense when put in that situation.”
The Spartans host the Washington Demons with a 7:30 p.m. kick off on Friday, Sept. 4, then travel to Union High School on Friday, Sept. 11, for their first road game of the season, also with a 7:30 p.m. kick off.
Solon is all-too-familiar with the Washington Demons, sharing a history with the team racking up an 8-2 record against the Demons since Oct. 14, 2010. The Demons visit Spartan Stadium to challenge the Spartans fresh off a season-opening 19-10 victory against Bettendorf, where they amassed 78 passing yards, giving up three interceptions, and completing six of 15 while rushing 30 times for 21 yards.