Both coaches will tell you that one play didn't decide the game, and they would be right.
But then again, after all the opportunities came and went, one play did have a monumental bearing on the Carroll/Carroll Kuemper winner Friday night.
Think about it. All the offseason work, the weight training, the drills, the practice reps. One play to determine whether you have town bragging rights for a year.
Trailing 7-0 with just more than a minute remaining in the game, Carroll scored a touchdown and then decided to go for two. Quarterback Addison Ross rolled out, was forced to reverse his field and then was tackled by Alex Drees and Josh Irlbeck, preserving Kuemper's dramatic 7-6 victory. It was the Knights' second straight win in the series.
“These kids know each other,” Kuemper coach Chad Klein said. “They're tweeting each other after the game and before the game. My wife teaches at Carroll High, so I know a lot of those kids pretty well. ... We still sit down with the coaches afterwards and talk about it a little bit. We're still neighbors and everything else, but for that night we can compete a little bit.”
Kuemper maintains its spot atop its division (Class 2-A/1-A/A) of The World-Herald's western Iowa ratings. Sioux City Heelan is still No. 1 in 4-A/3-A after a hard-fought 27-22 win over Sioux City East, while Exira-EHK leads the Eight-Man ratings.
Carroll High actually rose one spot to No. 4 among the large schools, after coming within a whisker of knocking off its crosstown rival in the defensive struggle. Kuemper finished with 260 total yards, getting 119 rushing yards on 23 carries from senior Chase Rupiper and 134 passing yards from Cole Neary on 13-of-25 accuracy.
Carroll managed 215 yards. Ross completed 10 of 20 for 122 yards, while Anthony Beyerink carried 25 times for 89 yards and Nate O'Brien caught five balls for 96.
After Rupiper's 3-yard TD run put Kuemper up 7-0 in the third, a long pass from Ross to O'Brien put the Tigers inside the 10 late in the fourth. Ross scored on a 1-yard run, and when Carroll called time out, Klein knew it wasn't to set up a tying kick. The Knights defended it well to complete the one-point victory.
Last year, Carroll lost its opener to Kuemper by six, then dropped three more in a row before its first win. Carroll coach Dennis McCartan told KKRL radio in Carroll that this year's group can't let that happen.
“We told the kids, 'You bounce back from this. Your goals are still in front of you,' ” he said. “The thing is, you can't let one game dictate your season. We've told them that every time that we've lost to Kuemper it's dictated our season. That's because it's a choice. We've allowed it to dictate that.
“They've already approached us last night. They want to do a couple things in practice a little different, and be harder on them. And we said, 'Most definitely. We can accomplish that.' ”
Defensively for Carroll, senior Cody Davis had 11 tackles, junior Ben Wellendorf 10 and senior Cody Netusil seven. For Kuemper, Klein praised his linebacking corps of Taylor Niehaus, Irlbeck and Austin Gunnerson, adding that the defensive line did its job to allow them to make the tackles.
This week, Carroll Kuemper hosts Denison-Schleswig, while Carroll travels to Atlantic.