Solon defenders make a tackle against Regina on Sept. 3. Jackie Blake Jensen/IC Pixx.By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
In a week three shutout of Keokuk the Solon defense allowed a meager 130 total yards and four first downs.
Solon forced four turnovers and didn’t let the Chiefs inside the 25 yard line in that week three win.
The best performance to date by the Spartans defense came a week later.
Solon (3-1) held a Washington offense that ranks among the most explosive in the state to 327 yards and returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in a 36-15 win over the fourth-ranked Demons.
“We’ve been trying to pride ourselves more on defense than offense because like they say defense wins championships and defense wins big games too,” Solon senior Jacob Coons said. “That is what we are trying to hang our hat on right now.”
Through the first three weeks of the season Washington was among the most productive offenses in Iowa.
Solon junior Tyler Linderbaum
Washington entered Friday averaging 46 points and 534 total yards per game while gaining better than 10 yards per offensive snap.
Solon didn’t let the Demons approach those numbers on Friday.
The Spartans held Washington 207 yards below its season average for total offense, allowing 5.2 yards per play.
“We stuck to our game plan,” said Solon junior linebacker Spencer Wegmann who had 5.5 tackles in the win said. “We believed that if everyone did their job that good things would happen.”
Solon’s ability to slow the potent Washington attack started with corralling dual-threat quarterback Ryan Reighard.
Reighard rushed for 151 yards on Friday but that was still 40 yards shy of his season average.
Most importantly in containing the explosive Reighard the Spartans didn’t allow the big play.
Solon allowed Reighard just three runs of more than 10 yards and stopped him for one yard or less on 14 of his 31 carries.
Reighard, who entered averaging 12.1 yards per carry, averaged 4.9 yards per attempt on Friday.
“I thought we were real physical,” Solon coach Kevin Miller said. “We knew the quarterback was the guy that makes them go and we had to kind of take him away which I thought we did a pretty good job of. We kind of forced their hand to do some things that they didn’t like to necessarily do.”
Solon held Washington scoreless over the final 31 minutes, limiting Washington to 34 yards in the third quarter.
The Spartan defense made the two biggest plays of the game early in the fourth as junior defensive tackle Tyler Linderbaum and Wegmann each returned interceptions for scores.
Linderbaum’s interception and 70-yard return put Solon up 29-15 with 8:32 left.
Wegmann jumped in front of a pass on the ensuing Washington play and went 20 yards for a score to make it 36-15.
“It was late in the game and I was just doing the responsibility that I have to do,” Wegmann said. “If everyone on the defense does their job things work out and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
It was indeed a team defensive effort for the Spartans which forced seven turnovers in the win.
Grant Goldsberry had an interception and recovered a muffed punt while Linderbaum made a team high 8.5 tackles including a sack.
Wegmann had a pair of tackles for loss and a sack to go with his interception while senior Trevor Nelson had 7.5 tackles and a sack.
The win improved Solon to 3-1 and 2-0 in 3A District 5 play, putting the Spartans atop the district standings along with this week’s opponent Oskaloosa (3-1, 2-0) and West Burlington/Notre Dame (4-0, 2-0).
“This is huge, a huge momentum swing,” Linderbaum said. “I like where we are at right now.”
Staying put: For the first time since 2011 the Boot will have the same home two years in a row.
City High became the first team to win the Battle for the Boot in back-to-back seasons since 2011 with its 20-7 win over West High on Friday.
Prior to Friday’s City High win the traveling trophy had changed hands each of the past four seasons as the home team won five in a row.
The Little Hawks became the first road team to win since City High won 41-21 at West High in 2010.
Record Setter Part 2: Two weeks ago Luke Lenoch became the all-time rushing leader at West Branch.
The senior all-stater continued his assault on the West Branch record book on Friday.
Lenoch ran for a single-game school record six touchdowns in a 54-32 win over Maquoketa Valley on Friday breaking the school record for career touchdowns.
The six-touchdown performance gave Lenoch rushing scores for his career, breaking the previous record for rushing scores held by Cade Jones.
Lenoch finished with 285 yards on 40 carries on Friday scoring on runs of 3, 11, 1 6, 17 and 2 yards.
Offensive performer of the week: Lenoch showed why he’s one of the most durable backs in the state, logging his second straight performance of more than 39 carries and 226 yards.
Following his 40-carry, 285-yard performance on Friday the 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior has rushed for 511 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two games.
Lenoch has rushed for 767 yards and 12 touchdowns this season and now has 4,951 yards in his career.
Runner-up: City High senior Bryce Frantz provided most of the offense in the Battle for the Boot rushing for 142 yards and two carries on 30 carries in a 20-7 Little Hawk w
Frantz had touchdown runs of 10 and 7 yards to help City High to its second straight win over West High.
Defensive performer of the week: Linderbaum turned in the play of the game with his 70-yard interception return for a touchdown but the junior defensive tackle was a constant force in Solon’s 36-15 win over No. 4 Washington.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior had a sack and six solo stops among his team-high 8.5 tackles.
Runner-up: Clear Creek Amana junior defensive end Cole White notched his second three-sack performance of the season in a 44-0 shutout of Maquoketa.
White had six tackles, including four for loss and the three sacks and now has a team-high seven sacks this season.