Central loses 78-12, but offense shows improvement

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Running back Sean Wilwert runs toward the end zone, capping off a 52-yard touchdown run for Central during Saturday’s loss to Midland. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Nick Deitchler runs toward the sideline to get around the Midland defense.

Warrior quarterback Evan Schroeder hands the ball off to fullback Noah Diersen.

Brandon Whittle (52), CJ Polkinghorn (42), Noah Diersen (21) and other Central teammates tackle the Midland ball carrier.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

The struggles continued for the Central football program amid a chaotic week of unsavory weather, position shifting and an injured starting quarterback. 

Heavy rainfall led to the game being postponed on Friday night and rescheduled to a Saturday morning kickoff. Due to field conditions at Midland, the game was relocated to the turf field at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville. 

As for the team, according to head coach Joe Koehn, adjustments were made to the rush defense along the defensive line and linebackers, and Evan Schroeder, nursing a groin injury, split time at quarterback with Elliott Kelly. 

During the week, Koehn spoke about the team being more “physical off the ball and sticking to assignments…staying on blocks, taking care of the ball and breaking down on tackles.” 

He added that practices were “much better than last week” and the team was simply “ready to move on forward. If we have a problem with something, we don’t let that ruin our practice, we fix it and move on.” 

Senior and left guard James Eberhart talked about the team’s first road game of the season. 

“I think the team is mentally prepared to go on the road. We’ve had sharp practices all week,” he said. 

When the game finally started, the Warriors were competitive early, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter. However, a lack of passing game, which finished without a completion, going 0-8 with another pick-six, created a one-dimensional offense. 

While the rushing attack, led by Sean Wilwert who had 76 yards on 18 attempts with one touchdown, was successful, gaining 156 yards on 48 attempts with two total touchdowns, it wasn’t enough to keep the Warriors in the game. Midland won 78-12.

Of the offense, Koehn said, “I thought the first-half was the best we played all year. Our offense showed improvement, kids were excited and then we got down a little bit and things began to slip. We put together two really good drives, which is always a satisfying feeling. We just have to learn to feed off that.” 

It was a sentiment shared by Eberhart, who said post-game, “I think the first quarter of the game was the best football we’ve played all season. I think some of our run packages worked pretty well, [but] passing did not work at all.” 

Eberhart aided the offense with 57 rushing yards and one touchdown. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Koehn spoke about the team’s tackling struggles prior to the game. 

“We need to slow down and take smaller steps instead of sprinting to the tackling, taking long lunges…We just need to come up and finish tackles and wrap up,” he said. 

The defense amassed 35 tackles, led by Wilwert with seven, but only one was for a loss and there were zero sacks. The lack of pressure and ongoing tackling struggles allowed Midland to rush for 324 yards on 34 attempts, giving up nine total touchdowns (seven rushing, two receiving) and nine two-point conversions. The defense recorded one interception, and held the Midland passing attack to just two completions for 16 yards, which certainly slowed down the offensive output. 

About the teams struggles so far, Eberhart said, “Our biggest struggle of the season I feel is being able to bring the level we play at on the practice field to the game field.” 

The special teams unit continues to show improvement in punting, averaging 21.7 yards per-punt, but struggled on kickoff returns, averaging 5.6 yards per return for the game, gaining 65 yards on 11 attempts. 

Despite all the chaos and changes prior to the game, the Warriors overcame some adversity to put together their strongest first half of the season. 

“We’re building. And us coaches come to practice every single day believing in them, and I think they see it. Regardless of what happens outside of football, we come to practice every day motivated and ready to find success,” Koehn said.  

This week, the team will face rival Don Bosco at Don Bosco High School on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m.

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