Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN– Regardless of how much time a team devotes to special teams practice during the week no coach envisions multiple special teams scores during a game let a lone one quarter.
First-year Clear Creek Amana head coach Matt Haddy says wrong.
“Absolutely we imagine doing that type of stuff,” Haddy said. “We have the best special teams coordinator in the state of Iowa in Jackson Litterer and our kids believe in it. That’s what we expect to do.”
Clear Creek Amana put on a special teams clinic on Friday.
The Clippers turned a pair of blocked punts into touchdowns in a 34-point first quarter and blitzed previously unbeaten Oskaloosa 48-9 in the Class 4A, District 4 opener for both teams at Clipper Field in Tiffin.
“We talked in the very beginning of the year that special teams is what is going to separate us and that’s what it did tonight,” Haddy said. “That’s what set the tone.”
Gage Freeman blocked two punts in the first quarter and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter as Clear Creek Amana improved to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in district play.
Clear Creek Amana also returned a fumble for a touchdown and set up another score with an interception return while winning its third consecutive game.
“It flips everything in a game,” Freeman said of the special teams plays. “Football is a very momentum based game and when you can get plays like that it gets everybody involved and everyone feels like they are part of it.”
Clear Creek Amana had just seven offensive snaps and 79 total yards in the first quarter but led 34-3 after a wild opening 12 minutes.
The Clippers took a 14-0 lead just two minutes and one second into the game without running an offensive play.
After forcing Oskaloosa to go three-and-out on the opening possession of the game and Freeman came through the line untouched and blocked the ensuing punt that was ultimately scooped up by Grant Kruse and returned 13 yards for a score.
It was really exhilarating,” Freeman said. “That’s a great way to start the game.”
On the next Oskaloosa offensive snap a screen pass to Darryl Fane was ruled a fumble that Ethan Pegump returned 25 yards for a touchdown and 14-0 lead with 9:59 left 1st quarter.
Clear Creek Amana was only getting started.
The first offensive series of the game for the Clippers was a 3-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 42-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Ben Swails.
On the ensuing Indian possession Freeman again came clean and blocked another punt that he returned himself 15 yards for a 28-3 lead.
“They were spread really wide and I faked like I was going to guard the guy and obviously they bought it,” Freeman said. “We were watching film all week and right when he looks back he says ‘ready, ready’ and I just came up to the line and was completely unblocked.”
A Reece Hoffman interception and return set up a short field that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown strike from Swails to Harrison Rosenberg that made the score 34-3 after one quarter.
It was the early special teams work that started the onslaught.
“Everybody has bought into it. It changes the game for us,” Clear Creek Amana senior lineman Tommy Morlan said. “Special teams wins us game.”
Freeman scored on touchdown runs of 12 and 18 yards in the second quarter as Clear Creek Amana activated the running clock and took a 48-9 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The second Freeman touchdown run of the quarter capped a 12-play, 94-yard touchdown march that was extended by a fake punt.
On fourth-and-7 from its own 39 Swails rolled out to punt and instead slipped a pass to Freeman on the sideline for an 18-yard gain.
“We have developed it where our kids do believe and they do get excited about those plays,” Haddy said. “We spend at least 30 minutes a day on special teams and I don’t think there are many high school programs that spend that much time on special teams and it’s paying off.”
Freeman ran for 91 yards on eight carries and Swails had 53 yards on four carries all in the first half.
Clear Creek Amana finished with 241 rushing yards while averaging better than 6.3 yards per carry.
“We had a great game plan coming into the game and we executed the best way we could have,” Morlan said. “We ran the ball straight at them.”
Clear Creek Amana finished with a modest 267 yards of offense but averaged 6.3 yards per play for the game and 8.6 yards per snap in the first half.
“We didn’t have to do a ton offensively but we were really sharp with what we did do offensively,” Haddy said. “That’s a nice situation to be in where you don’t have to rely on your offense to put up a ton of points but I was really happy with what they did.”
First downs 15 13
Rushes-yards 38-241 25-73
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 16-29-1
Passing yards 26 194
Total yards 267 267
Punts-avg. 1-46 2-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 1-5 1-10
Clear Creek Amana 34 14 0 0 – 48
Oskaloosa 3 6 0 0 – 9
CCA – Grant Kruse 13 punt return (Kruse kick)
CCA – Ethan Pegump 25 fumble return (Kruse kick)
OSK – Dawson Braden 24 field goal
CCA – Ben Swails 42 run (Kruse kick)
CCA – Gage Freeman 15 punt return (Kruse kick)
CCA – Harrison Rosenberg 8 pass from Swails (Kick failed)
OSK – Keaton Flaherty 1 run (Kik failed)
CCA – Freeman 12 run (Kruse kick)
CCA – Freeman 18 run (Kruse kick)
RUSHING – Clear Creek Amana: Gage Freeman 8-91, Ben Swails 4-53, Xavier Williams 9-39, Gabe Bormann 8-40, Jackson Schmidt 7-14, Thomas Dunn 2-4. Oskaloosa: JaShaden Baker 6-36, Darryl Fane 9-28, Keaton Flaherty 2-12, Colin Snitker 2-4, Wyatt Grub 4-3, Trevor Willett 1-(-9), Team 1-(-1).
PASSING – Clear Creek Amana: Ben Swails 2-4-0 26. Oskaloosa: Keaton Flaherty 15-25-1 182, Trevor Willett 1-4-0 12.
RECEIVING – Clear Creek Amana: Gage Freeman 1-18, Harrison Rosenberg 1-8. Oskaloosa: Waylon Bolibaugh 4-62, Cade Kelderman 3-54, JaShaden Baker 3-19, AJ Lawrence 2-30, Darryl Fane 2-6, Blake Westercamp 1-17, Wyatt Grubb 1-6.