SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Give credit to Connor Niles for answering the question honestly.
Yes, he said, Sioux City Heelan was hoping to make a statement on Friday night.
“We felt like a lot of people around the state were looking at us like, who have we played, who have we played?” he said. “We came out here, and hopefully we opened up some eyes and some ears.”
State No. 1 Heelan dominated every aspect of its matchup with No. 5 Carroll, outgaining the Tigers 350-100 in a 42-0 Class 3-A, District 2 homecoming victory at Memorial Field.
The continuous clock that begins with a margin of at least 35 points was triggered with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter. Heelan, also rated first in western Iowa (Class 4-A/3-A) by The World-Herald, improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in district play. WI No. 3 Carroll dropped to 5-2 and 3-1.
“We got punched in the mouth and we never recovered,” Carroll coach Dennis McCartan said. “That is the bottom line. We thought we were the most physical team in the district. I think we still are. But I think tonight they were quicker than us.”
Heelan has leaned more on the pass this year, but ran the ball five times on its six-play, 69-yard touchdown drive to start the game, ending in Philip Jacobson’s 13-yard run. Halfback Tony Tobin had four carries for 34 yards on the drive.
With Heelan’s running established, a Carroll team sharing the 3-A lead in scoring defense (7.0 avg.) struggled to contain the Crusaders. Trent Solsma’s 1-yard TD pass to Niles made it 14-0 at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter.
Jacobson added a second score with a spectacular 60-yard punt return midway through the second quarter. Noah Svec provided a hustling block downfield to allow Jacobson to go the final 20 yards. Tobin’s 5-yard touchdown run pushed the Heelan lead to 28-0 with 3:00 left in the second quarter.
Tobin, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior, finished with 21 carries for 126 yards.
“He had an ankle that was bothering him, and probably about the last two or three weeks he’s getting healthy,” Heelan coach Roger Jansen said. “He’s got confidence. He’s hitting that hole hard.”
From the secondary, Niles dropped what appeared to be an easy interception late in the first quarter. He redeemed himself with a diving pick early in the second, and then added a second interception just before the half.
“He was staring down his wide receiver,” Niles said of the second pick. “We’ve been working on those routes all week, and our scout team did a great job of working on that.”
Carroll was held to 68 rushing yards, as senior defensive end Christian Brobst was a one-man wrecking crew. McCartan called the 6-3, 205-pounder “a nightmare.”
“I’m glad he’s on our team,” Jansen said. “He’s very explosive. He’s got a motor that doesn’t stop. We’re going to count on him to make a lot of big plays.”
The Heelan coach said Carroll’s wins at Harlan and at Spencer got his team’s attention.
“We knew what we had in store, and our kids really came out and were focused,” Jansen said. “We’ve made strides every week, and that’s our main objective.”
McCartan said his team’s mission will be to put itself in position to perhaps get another shot at Heelan.
“No disrespect to the southwest district, but I think the road to the Dome goes through these guys,” he said. “If that’s the plan, we’ve got to get better to play guys like this.”
Carroll (5-2, 3-1) ............................ 0 0 0 0— 0
At Sioux City Heelan (7-0, 4-0) ............................ 14 14 7 7—42
H: Philip Jacobson 13 run (Jason Sloniker kick)
H: Connor Niles 1 pass from Trent Solsma (Sloniker kick)
H: Jacobson 60 punt return (Sloniker kick)
H: Tony Tobin 5 run (Sloniker kick)
H: Tucker Spears 18 pass from Solsma (Sloniker kick)
H: Jacobson 30 run (Joe Kipp kick)
RUSHING: C, Anthony Beyerink 14-44, Addison Ross 8-(-4), Isaac Riesselman 4-13, Jon Dvorak 2-4, Nate O’Brien 2-13. H, Tony Tobin 21-126, Philip Jacobson 2-22, Trent Solsma 6-18, Tyler Cropley 1-3, Connor Niles 1-3, Nick Bousquet 3-14.
PASSING: C, Addison Ross 6-14-2, 32 yards. H, Trent Solsma 9-16-0, 165 yards, 2 TDs; Philip Jacobson 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: C, Isaac Riesselman 4-16, Peyton Renning 1-8, Anthony Beyerink 1-8. H, Connor Niles 3-45, Philip Jacobson 3-70, Tucker Spears 1-18, Tyler Cropley 3-32.