Some seniors on the Creston/O-M football team have expressed a theme statement this year that “good enough isn’t good enough,” and never was that more on display than Friday night at Panther Field.
The Panthers opened Class 3A District 1 play with a 28-14 victory over rebuilding Atlantic, improving to 3-0 in the process. But, not many in the Creston/O-M camp came away feeling it was a performance sharp enough to beat the top teams in the district.
The Panthers had three turnovers on fumbles. And, one week after 11 penalties for 90 yards, Friday night wasn’t much better with 10 infractions for 65 yards.
During one drive, Creston/O-M had the ball first-and-goal at the Atlantic 1-yard line with a chance to go up 28-7 late in the third quarter. Instead, the drive came up empty as a run for negative yardage and a false start penalty led to a field goal try that was wide.
“Too many penalties,” coach Brian Morrison said. “We’re not playing clean football right now so we have to get it fixed. Turnovers on special teams and in the red zone, penalties when we have an opportunity to score and get no points out of it. We should have put it away, but instead it became a dogfight.”
And that’s exactly what Atlantic coach Nick Ross wanted from his team, after a mistake-filled 47-0 loss to Carroll in which turnovers led to three Tiger touchdowns in the opening three minutes.
On Friday, the Trojans showed flashes of being a competitive football team, sparked by the return of senior running back Jacob Dvorak from suspension. He rushed for more than 100 yards, including 50 yards alone in an encouraging second quarter.
But, five interceptions doomed the Trojans from getting over the hump.
“We knew we were a much, much better football team that we showed last week,” Ross said. “Creston is notoriously a physical football team, and I think we matched that for awhile, at least. But we’re not satisfied. We’re closer to playing the kind of football we know we can play.”
After a sloppy start with penalties on four of the first six plays of the game by both teams, the Panthers struck first with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Phipps to Jesse Rathe, who shed a would-be tackler near the 5-yard line.
Alex Nielsen captured the first of his two pass interceptions in the game, and Trevor Frain ran 2 yards for a touchdown in a short-yardage package modeled after Oklahoma’s “Belldozer” look with quarterback Blake Bell.
In this variation, called “Tank” formation by the Panthers, Phipps lines up wide at wingback instead of quarterback, and Frain takes a direct snap, running behind backfield blockers Seth Maitlen and Adam Baker.
Creston/O-M turned it over receiving a punt, and Atlantic converted with a 15-yard touchdown run by Dvorak. The half ended with a 14-7 Creston/O-M lead.
From the same Tank formation, Frain bolted 55 yards when he busted outside for a touchdown to make it 21-7 in the third quarter.
“We run powers and stuff like that,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Frain. “With Maitlen and Baker blocking in front of Trevor, if we get any push at all we have something. He bounced it outside on that touchdown, and then Baker started bouncing it out, too.”
On the positive side, the Panthers had two running backs (Frain and Baker) combine for 187 yards rushing, and eight different receivers picked up 183 yards through the air from Phipps, who finished 15-of-25 with two TDs and one interception.
A new weapon emerged Friday, as the Panthers picked up first downs with a quick swing pass to a running back, with Frain and Pals both gaining good yardage on the play.
“That’s something we threw in this week,” coach Frain said. “We block it just like a sweep, get it out there quick.”
After Creston/O-M missed the field goal while leading 21-7, Atlantic closed it to a one-score margin.
An interception by Brendan Holmes set up a 3-yard quarterback sneak touchdown by Atlantic’s Joseph Walker, as the Trojans cut it to 21-14 with 9:34 remaining.
Creston/O-M answered with a successful drive, as Phipps was 4-of-4 passing for 64 yards on the possession, ending with a 17-yard rollout touchdown toss to Gavin Leith.
Nielsen and Pals each finished with two interceptions, as Atlantic had as many passes intercepted (five) as completions. Frain had 19 tackles, including an 11-yard quarterback sack, and he ran for 104 yards and two TDs.
In addition to an interception, Maitlen finished with 14 total tackles.
This week the Panthers play at Adel against an ADM team that outscored Glenwood Friday, 48-38. Atlantic, now 1-2 and 0-1 in the district, returns home to face Lewis Central, now 0-3 after a 21-20 loss to Indianola Friday. The Titans opened the season with losses to crosstown rivals Abraham Lincoln and St. Albert.
Creston/O-M 28, Atlantic 14
Points by quarter
Atlantic 0 7 0 7 — 14
Creston 7 7 7 7 — 28
Cr — Jesse Rathe 14 pass from Brandon Phipps (Conner Pals kick), 3:17
Cr — Trevor Frain 2 run (Pals kick), 9:31
A — Jacob Dvorak 16 run (Matthew Smith kick), 2:01
Cr — Frain 55 run (Pals kick), 8:01
A — Joseph Walker 3 run (Smith kick), 9:34
Cr — Gavin Leith 17 pass from Phipps (Pals kick), 5:27
Atl ... C/O-M
First downs 8 ... 20
Rushes-yards 30-119 ... 44-196
Passing yards 34 ... 183
Total yards 153 ... 379
Punts-avg. 4-38.0 ... 1-48.0
Return yards 65 ... 40
Fumbles-lost 0-0 ... 3-3
Penalties-yards 8-75 ... 10-65
RUSHING — C/O-M: Trevor Frain 8-104, Adam Baker 23-83, Brandon Phipps 13-9, Conner Pals 1-0. A: Jacob Dvorak 21-105, Joseph Walker 8-19.
PASSING — C/O-M: Phipps 15-25-1 for 183 yards. A: Walker 5-15-4 for 34 yards, Ryan Hawkins 0-1-1.
RECEIVING — C/O-M: Frain 2-47, Jesse Rathe 3-42, Christian Groumoutis 3-35, Bryce Briley 2-24, Gavin Leith 1-17, Maxx Walters 1-11, Pals 1-10, Baker 2-7. A: Dvorak 1-15, Brendan Holmes 2-12, Tristen Benn 1-8.
PUNTS-AVG. — C/O-M: Alex Nielsen 1-48.0. A: Hawkins 4-38.0.
TACKLE LEADERS (solo-assists) — C/O-M: Frain 2-17, Maitlen 2-12, Cory Rathe 1-9, Baker 1-5, Leith 0-5, Alex Chapman 0-4, Nielsen 1-2, Walters 1-1, J. Rathe 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS — C/O-M: Pals 2, Nielsen 2, Maitlen 1. A: Holmes 1.
PASS BREAKUPS — C/O-M: Maitlen 1, Jordan Thompson 1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS (YARDS) —C/O-M: Frain 1-11, Walters 1-1.
SACKS — C/O-M: Frain 1.