City High quarterback Nate Wieland runs in a game on Aug. 26. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports.Your Prep Sports
A quarterback putting up impressive passing numbers in Friday’s Class 4A, District 7 opener between No. 6 City High and Clinton came as no surprise.
The quarterback that turned in the big night through the air was slightly surprising.
City High senior Nate Wieland threw for 349 yards and accounted for four touchdowns to lead the sixth-ranked Little Hawks to a 49-28 win over Clinton (3-2) at Coan Field.
The win improved City High to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in District 7 play.
Clinton senior Johnny Sullivan entered Friday as the state’s leading passer and threw for 286 yards but it was Wieland that stole the show on Friday.
Wieland nearly equaled his season total for passing yards, completing 20-of-28 passes on his way to a career-high 349 yards.
The Northern Illinois recruit threw touchdown passes to Zach Jones and Naeem Smith and added 95 yards and two touchdowns rushing as City High rolled up 547 yards of total offense.
“We worked hard on improving our passing game this week, we were very effective tonight,” City High coach Dan Saber said. “I don’t have all the details yet but we did a lot of good things, especially in the first half.”
Wieland passed for 374 in the first four games this season but nearly topped that mark on Friday.
He completed passes to six different players as Jones and Gabe Nkumu both surpassed 100 yards receiving.
Nkumu caught three passes for 154 yards and Jones had eight grabs for 101 yards and a touchdown.
“He played well under some pressure and made some throws on the move which was great and then we had some guys make some great catches,” Sabers said of Wieland. “Gabe Nkumu had a couple great catches and we were spreading it around. Vance (Dillon) caught some, Naeem (Smith) and Zach (Jones). We spread it out to a lot of guys so we’re really pleased with that part.”
Wieland started the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
Less than two minutes later City High upped the lead to 13-0 when the Little Hawks blocked a Clinton punt and Brock Hunger returned it for a touchdown.
“We were able to block a punt for a scoop and score so that got us up early,” Sabers said. “It got us up ahead like we thought we needed to because their offense is tough, there’s just no way around it, man. They run great routes and their quarterback is tough so that really helped us get control of the game was to get those two scores early.”
Clinton cut the lead to 13-7 on a Gage Harris 2-yard run but City High answered with back-to-back touchdown runs by Wieland of 1 and 18 yards to push the lead to 27-7.
The Little Hawks made it 34-14 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Bryce Frantz and led 37-14 at halftime and never let the River Kings back into the game.
Sullivan finished 23-of-44 passing for 286 yards but City High held the River Kings to 26 yards rushing.
Entering Friday’s district opener Sullivan was averaging better than 313 passing yards per game while completing 68 percent of his passes.
“They are a very good offensive team,” Sabers said. “We had three pass interference calls that, you know, I thought could have gone either way and stuff that hurt us like mixed coverages. But they go pretty quick and that can happen some and they’re quarterback is pretty special. We did some things really well. Them putting up 28 points isn’t that bad in the whole scheme of things.”
Frantz added 58 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries.