Clear Creek Amana senior Jared EckrichBy Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Defense, special teams and field position are the least sexy parts of winning football, but Clear Creek Amana proved their worth on Friday. In spades.
The Clippers rallied for a 24-14 victory over Dubuque Wahlert at Clipper Field to begin 3A district play and improved their record to 3-0. The Golden Eagles are 1-2, 0-1.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Clippers co-coach Matt Hughes said. “They just kept coming all night. I can’t say enough about coach (Mark) Mitchell and the defensive staff and what they’ve done with our defense. Week in and week out those guys are keeping us in games while offensively we figure out what we want to do.”
Wahlert took the opening kickoff and drove 86 yards in 13 plays, overcoming two penalties en route, for the go-ahead touchdown. Junior running back Kelan Dickson rushed for 47 of those yards. It was not an impressive start for the defense.
“Always the first quarter seems like a chess match,” Hughes said. “Trying to figure out what we can do to exploit different situations. We found some things in the first quarter that we finally started hitting on in the second quarter.”
“The gears just kicked in and we had to get it in the end zone because they punched us in the face first, so we were going to return it,” Clipper senior Jared Eckrich said.
The Clippers adjusted and held Wahlert to two first downs the rest of the first half and forced four punts. Not only that, the defense shuttered the Wahlert offense to such an extent that the offense started second-quarter scoring possessions at the Eagle 33- and 29-yard lines.
“We changed up the stunts and everything on defense,” two-way lineman Max Moore said. “It really made a big difference.”
Clear Creek Amana tied the game early in the second quarter on a 59-yard drive. Eckrich scored on a 44-yard run after cutting outside.
“I thought it was a wrecked play at first,” Eckrich said. “I bounced it to the outside and it was open field.”
He demonstrated his strength by stiff-arming the final would-be tackler at about the 10.
“I just had to hit him,” Eckrich said.
“I think that was a big momentum changer,” Moore said. “All of us thought we could just pound the ball and really stop them on defense.”
The defense took control, holding Wahlert to minus-12 yards on its next possession and forcing a short punt from the 8-yard line. CCA took over at the Wahlert 33. Three plays later junior Cade Gallagher plunged into the line and found daylight 25 yards to the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
Again the defense pushed Wahlert back to its own 5 courtesy of a sack and an intentional grounding call. CCA took over on the Wahlert 29. Eckrich finished the short drive with a 3-yard TD run and it was 21-7.
The Clippers defense had four sacks in the first half.
“We’ve got a great defense, and they play hard with a lot of emotion and intensity,” Hughes said.
Wahlert finally put together another TD drive and cut the lead to 21-14 with 8:35 left in the fourth quarter. Then the Clipper special teams struck.
Junior Matt Brimeyer returned the kickoff from his own 5 to the Wahlert 41.
“It helped the offense out amazingly,” Eckrich said. “It just gives you so much momentum when you’re starting on the 50-yard line instead of the 10-yard line. It’s just so much easier.”
CCA started a drive to put the game out of reach. A key play came when Brimeyer converted a fourth-and-three with a big push over the left side of the line to give the Clippers a first down at the Golden Eagle 30.
Senior kicker Tyreke Williams gave CCA breathing room with a soaring 45-yard field goal with 4:26 left in the game.
Dickson finished with 136 yards on 33 carries. Wahlert outgained CCA and had more first downs. But none of that mattered because the Clippers defense won the field position battle, and their special teams were indeed special.
Dubuque Wahlert 7 0 0 7 – 14
Clear Creek Amana 0 21 0 3 – 24
DW – Noah Sigwarth run (Joseph Friend kick)
CCA – Jared Eckrich 44 run (Tyreke Williams kick)
CCA – Cade Gallagher 25 run (Williams kick)
CCA – Eckrich 3 run (Williams kick)
DW – Kelan Dickson 1 run (Friend kick)
CCA – Williams 45 field goal
First downs 14 8
Rushing-yards 44-157 38-175
Comp-Att-Int 7-14-0 2-4-0
Passing yards 79 4
Punts-Avg. 5-28 3-50
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 10-82 5-30
Rushing – Wahlert: Kelan Dickson 33-136, Noah Sigwarth 8-10, Kolton Bartow 2-7, William Hutchinson 1-4; CCA: Jared Eckrich 13-93, Matt Brimeyer 11-33, Cade Gallagher 3-29, Ashton Carpenter 7-18, Grant Riggan 4-2.
Passing – Wahlert: Noah Sigwarth 7-14-0-79; CCA: Ashton Carpenter 2-4-0-4.
Receiving – Wahlert: Joel Callahan 6-69, Spencer Goerdt 1-10; CCA: Jared Eckrich 1-3, Kobey Schlotman 1-1.