Karns City offense too much for St. Marys in district semifinal
Karns City opened its District 9 Class AA semifinal game with its biggest play of the night, but the Gremlins' little gains made the difference in their home win over St. Marys.
The top-seeded Gremlins (8-3) sustained long drives with steady pickups during their 34-14 victory Friday night against the No. 4 seed Dutchmen (5-6). They used almost a dozen ball carriers to create a multi-threat attack that accumulated more than 340 yards offense, including 205 rushing.
“(Running backs) just rotate every three plays. We don't ride a hot hand,” said Karns City coach Ed Conto, whose team has reached the finals for a sixth time in seven years and will meet No. 2 Kane (7-3) next week. “The next guy up just does what he's supposed to do.”
Tristan Rhoades took the opening kickoff 79 yards for a score to put Karns City ahead, 7-0, just 13 seconds into the game.
Rhoades finished as the team's leading rusher, picking up 65 yards on five carries. Wyatt Everetts (six carries, 50 yards) scored on runs of 16 and 6 yards in the first half. Jake Laughery (five carries, 32 yards), Adam Whited (five carries, 27 yards) and Zach Moore (five carries, 24 yards) also contributed to the Gremlins' ground game.
“They did an exceptional job of being very diverse in their offense,” St. Marys coach Joe Schlimm said. “They throw the ball. They run the perimeter. They misdirect. They run the fullback. So they have a lot of weapons offensively that we didn't do a very good job of stopping.”
Quarterback Tyler Kepple, usually one of the Gremlins' leading rushers, managed just 4 yards on seven carries. But he did more than enough damage with his arm as he completed nine of 11 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
His first touchdown throw, which came midway through the third quarter and put Karns City ahead, 28-6, exemplified the gifts of Everetts, who took a screen pass down the left sideline for 47 yards, dragging several defenders over the last 10.
“Coach always says after the first hit, you have to keep your legs churning, keep going,” said Everetts, who had three catches for 89 yards.
“Big plays can go anywhere with us, basically. It depends what happens and who gets it. My card was drawn.”
St. Marys entered the game with a Wing-T rushing attack that averaged more than 300 yards. The Dutchmen gained 215 on Friday, but they failed to find a momentum-shifting run — and they passed for just four times for 4 yards.
Cody Baker had 71 yards on 11 rushes for the Dutchmen. Alex Feldbauer finished with 24 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He left the game early in the fourth quarter with a head injury.
“(Feldbauer) got nicked up a little bit with about eight or nine minutes left,” Schlimm said. “It was enough to call it a season. He's the key to what we do offensively.
“We thought we'd be able to move the ball efficiently on the ground, which I thought we did. But the fact that we were so one-dimensional did hurt us.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.