There will be no repeat in Iowa eight-man this year, as the defending champion, second seed Fremont-Mills Knights were knocked off 45-34 by third-seeded Coon Rapids-Bayard Wednesday night in Tabor.
The District 8 runner-up Knights had their hands full from the get-go, trying to contain the pass-happy Crusaders from District 7, while also figuring out how to kick start their own offense minus senior quarterback Austin Switzer, done for the season with a broken arm.
The 6-4 Crusaders struck first, junior Spencer Winnett snaring a pass from senior quarterback Keaton Schlatter, breaking a tackle and sprinting 27 yards for the opening score. After forcing a three-and-out, Conn Rapids found pay dirt again just two minutes later, Schlatter this time connecting with junior Caylor Deeth for a 40-yard score and 13-0 lead after the PAT sailed wide right.
With the Knights trying a number of personnel schemes to make up for Switzer’s absence, they finally hit on a winner with senior running back Clayton Wilson, who had thrown three passes including one for a touchdown this year, taking snaps in the shotgun. Wilson got the Knights on the board bout a minute into the second quarter when he shucked a tackler and lofted a 30-yarder back across the field to sophomore Broc Hansen, who had started at QB, for a touchdown.
After the Crusaders inexplicably went for a fake punt on 4th and 18 at their own 4-yard line on the next set of downs and failed, Wilson put F-M on top one play later with a 10-yard run up the middle.
Fighting the momentum shift, the Crusaders stayed with their game plan, keeping drives alive with short passes across the middle and putting up bombs every now and then to test the waters. With six minutes left in the half, they picked up 50 yards on one of those haymakers and punched the ball in two downs later to retake the lead 19-14. A pickoff and two passes later and they were back ahead by two scores 25-14, a lead they carried into the locker room.
F-M surge back to open the third quarter, junior Spencer Phillips rumbling 44 yards to pull the Knights to within five points less than a minute into the half and senior Mark Hall capping F-M’s best drive of the night with a 3-yard touchdown just three minutes later to put the Knights in front 28-25. The teams would trade the lead one more time, Deeth hauling in a 44-yarder from Schlatter two minutes before the end of the third, and Knight sophomore Mackenzie Lang barreling one yard for a score 40 seconds into the fourth to give F-M a 34-31 edge.
But that was the last time the defending champs would reach the promised land, as the Crusader offense kept it in high gear, scoring twice more, and the undersized but scrappy defense had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the final four-and-a-half minutes to seal the Knights’ fate.
Fremont-Mills finishes the season 8-2. Coon Rapids-Bayard moves on to the second round, traveling to Exira Monday to take on the undefeated first seed Spartans.
Fremont-Mills .........................0 14 14 6 -- 34
Coon Rapids-Bayard...................13 12 6 14 -- 45
CR-B – Winnett 27 pass from Schlatter (Ramirez kick), 3:20
CR-B – Deeth 40 pass from Schlatter (kick failed), 1:10
F-M – Hansen 30 pass from Wilson (Lang kick), 10:49
F-M – Wilson 10 run (Lang kick), 9:42
CR-B – Namanny 1 run (conversion failed), 5:54
CR-B – McAlister 14 pass from Schlatter (kick failed), 5:19
F-M – Sp. Phillips 44 run (kick failed), 11:16
F-M – Hall 3 run (Se. Phillips two-point conversion), 9:05
CR-B – Deeth 44 pass from Schlatter (kick failed), 2:06
F-M – Lang 1 run (kick failed), 11:21
CR-B – Deeth 26 pass from Schlatter (Ramirez kick), 9:21
CR-B – Winnett 1 pass from Schlatter (Ramirez kick), 7:21