By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – After being crushed by rival Regina in the second game of the season, Solon coach Kevin Miller wondered about his football team.
He wasn’t sure how his players would bounce back from such an emotional loss, but he challenged the seniors to lead the way.
And have they ever.
Solon extended its winning streak to five games by blanking Mount Pleasant 26-0 in the regular-season home finale on Friday at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans sacked Mount Pleasant quarterback Zach Beason five times, including four in the second half for a minus-37 yards.
Solon junior Kendrick Harris
Mount Pleasant was held to just 55 yards on offense, including 32 net rushing yards.
“I just want to applaud our seniors, honestly,” Miller said. “They’ve done a great job of really taking their leadership to another level. Through the things that they demonstrate not only in our school, but on the practice field as far as the effort, the intensity, just the overall attitude.
“They’ve been very positive in how they responded and that has certainly helped our football team.”
Senior defensive end Jacob Coons impacted the game on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but he was dominant on defense.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Iowa recruit repeatedly blew past his blocker and forced the pocket to collapse, collecting three of Solon’s sacks.
Coons also caught four passes for 47 yards and had three carries for 18 yards while helping the Spartans improve to 6-1 on the season.
Coons said the 34-0 loss to Regina in week two brought the team closer together. The players took more ownership, led by the seniors.
“We sort of came together as a team like on our own, without the coaches, saying this is our season, this is our last year playing and we wanted to bond together and see what we could do and see whether it could be special,” Coons said.
Junior running back Kendrick Harris led Solon with 97 rushing yards, while senior quarterback Blayze Griffis passed for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
Harris scored Solon’s first touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Griffis with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
Solon senior Blayze GriffisGriffis then connected with senior Graeson Dall for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 2:58 left in the second quarter. However, the point-after kick failed, leaving the score at 13-0.
Dall scored his second touchdown in the second quarter on an 18-yard run with 47.6 seconds left before halftime.
The Spartans failed again to convert the point-after kicking, making the score 19-0 at halftime.
Mount Pleasant was held to just 25 yards in the first half and 30 yards in the second half.
“Our front seven did a nice job of really establishing the line of scrimmage and that’s where it starts with us,” Miller said. “We’ve got to control the line of scrimmage and then bigger and better things are going to happen for us.
“So with that being said, we’ve got to continue to evolve as a football team in all the other phases. Missed extra points, those are the types of things that we need to shore up if we’re going to get, hopefully, where we want to be. But our defense, I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of the overall performance. They did a great job of running the football, creating turnovers, tackling in space. It was just a great effort on their part.”
Solon finished with 333 total yards, including 179 rushing yards.
Griffis also completed passes to five different players. His favorite target was Dall, who had six receptions for 76 yards.
“Offensively, we’re still working and striving to become more consistent,” Miller said. “We do some good things. But we need to be more sustaining in our drives. We’ve got to finish drives and that just comes with execution.
“So those are things we’re going to have to sharpen up as we move forward.”
While the loss to Regina devastated the players and coaches, Harris said it ultimately has had a positive effect on the season.
“It was a big wake-up call,” Harris said. “We just came together as a team and worked harder in practices and got more tempo and that’s when we started rolling.”
Junior lineman Zach Wegmann joined forces with Coons to help lead the attack on defense. Wegmann could sense that the Spartans had an edge in the trenches.
“We could tell they were getting worn down and that gave us fire to keep it going,” Wegmann said.
Wegmann said the players on defense feed off each other when it comes to sacking the quarterback.
“That’s a big source of energy there,” Wegmann said. “As soon as someone has it, it spreads like wildfire.”
Dall also made an impact on defense when he intercepted a pass in the second quarter and returned it to the Mount Pleasant 40-yard line. The Spartans scored five players later on Dall’s 10-yard touchdown grab.
Senior running back Trevor Nelson completed the scoring for Solon by catching a 7-yard touchdown pass from Griffis with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
The Solon seniors were honored before the game on Senior Night, as it was their last regular-season game at home.
The Spartans, who are ranked eighth in Class 3A, will face Burlington Notre Dame and Fairfield in the final two regular-season games on the road.
“It goes by fast,” Coons said. “It feels like just yesterday we were freshmen. You have to enjoy it.”
The game was stopped for about 15 minutes in the second quarter after Mount Pleasant junior defensive back Brody McGhghy was injured on a play in which Dall gained 23 yards on a screen pass. McGhghy was carried off the field on a stretcher, but it was later reported that he had movement in his arms and legs and was expected to make a full recovery.
Mount Pleasant Solon
First downs 5 18
Rushes-yards 31-32 40-179
Passing yards 23 154
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-15 4-55
Mount Pleasant 0 0 0 0 – 0
Solon 7 12 0 7 – 26
SOL – Kendrick Harris 5 pass from Blayze Griffis (Anthony Bullard kick)
SOL – Graeson Dall 10 pass from Griffis (kick failed)
SOL – Dall 18 run (kick failed)
SOL – Trevor Nelson 7 pass from Griffis (Bullard kick)
Rushing – Mount Pleasant: Pat Canby 17-70, Brody McGhyhy 1-5, Zach Beason 13-minus 44. Solon: Kendrick Harris 21-97, Trevor Nelson 5-25, Bryce West 5-25, Graeson Dall 3-20, Jacob Coon 3-18, Blayze Griffis 3-minus-6.
Passing – Mount Pleasant: Zach Beason 3-12-1-23. Solon: Blayze Griffis 12-20-0-154.
Receiving – Mount Pleasant: Pat Canby 2-21, Kieran Kohorst 1-2. Solon: Graeson Dall 6-76, Jacob Coons 4-47, Grant Goldsberry 1-15, Trevor Nelson 1-7, Kendrick Harris 1-5.