Your Prep Sports
One of the questions for the Solon offense this season was who would step up at the pass catchers for returning starting quarterback Blake Timmons.
The answer to that question has been somewhat surprising yet straightforward for the Spartans.
Everyone has stepped up.
Led by seniors Jake Quillin and Carson Miller 13 different players have caught a pass for Solon during a 7-0 start to the season.
“They are really coming along,” Timmons said of the receivers. “We do a lot of one-on-ones in practice and just going out and competing and going to get the ball. Every across the board has really improved a lot.”
With Timmons returning after throwing for 1,078 yards in 10 games last season as a sophomore the Solon passing game expected to take a step forward this season.
The question was who would be on the receiving end of Timmons’ throws.
Departed senior Colton Hoffman accounted for nearly half of Solon’s receptions last season, more than 62 percent of the team’s receiving yards and caught 11 of Timmons’ 14 touchdown passes.
The extent of the returning receiving corps for the Spartans was three players that combined for 12 receptions good for 245 yards last season.
A lack of experience hasn’t been a problem this season.
Quillin has emerged as the go-to option for Timmons with a team-leading 14 receptions.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Quillin has shown he can be a big-play threat as well averaging 21.8 yards per reception while racking up 305 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
“Last year I didn’t really play a lot on offense and this year I’ve tried to step up,” Quillin said. “Blake has stepped up too. He has improved a ton from last year too and I think overall we’ve gotten a lot better.”
Quillin isn’t alone in stepping up.
Five of the Spartans top six receivers this season didn’t record a single reception a year ago.
Miller, who had 17 receptions for 194 yards last season, is the only one of the top six pass catchers for Solon this season that had a reception a year ago.
Junior running back Sean Stahle and Miller each have eight receptions this season. Miller has 168 receiving yards and three touchdowns and Stahle’s eight receptions have gone for 224 yards and two scores.
Trin Eidahl (7 receptions for 128 yards), Brady Mullen (5 for 75) and Grant Gerdin (4 for 90 and 2 TD) are all seniors that caught the first passes of their career’s this season.
Senior Jacob Timmons also has three catches for 30 yards.
“We know it’s important and that in the playoffs we are going to need that passing game,” Quillin said. “We can’t just run the ball all the time and I think our passing game has really improved.”
Last season Solon averaged 109 passing yards per game while putting up 344 total yards and 31 points per game.
Timmons has nearly matched his yardage total from last season throwing for 1,072 yards in seven games with 18 touchdowns and just one interception.
Solon is averaging 182 passing yards per game, 443 total yards and 46.6 points per game.
After averaging 9.3 yards per pass attempt last season the Spartans have seen that number grow to 12.2 yards per attempt this season.
“I think we are improving,” Timmons said. “There are things we can still do better but I think we’ve come a long way already from where we were.”
News and Notes
RPI Rankings: The second set of RPI (ratings percentage index) rankings were released by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Monday.
The RPI is used to determine all 16 playoff qualifiers in Class 5A and will determine the four at-large qualifiers in Class 4A and 3A.
With two regular season games remaining City High (6-1) is eighth in the Class 5A RPI while Clear Creek Amana (5-2) is eighth in 4A.
Solon (7-0) is sixth in 3A.
Undefeated Tracker: The list of undefeated teams in the state is down to 28 and there are two Your Prep Sports area teams remaining among the unbeaten.
Solon (7-0) is one of six undefeated teams remaining in Class 3A while Regina (7-0) is one of seven teams in Class 1A without a loss.
1,000 Yard Watch: Five Your Prep Sports area running backs are withing striking distance of reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark over the next two weeks.
West High senior Mason Applegate needs 40 yards over the final two weeks to crack 1,000 yards after rushing for 960 yards in his first six games.
West Branch junior Andy Henson has rushed for 872 yards and Regina junior Levi Daniel has 779 yards entering the final week of the regular season in Class 1A.
Liberty High senior Darius Willis-Newell had 783 yards and Solon junior Sean Stahle has 727 yards with two regular season games remaining.
Big Man Touchdown: West Branch senior defensive tackle Drake Berry got into the scoring act last week when he scooped up a fumble and returned it six yards for a touchdown.
It was the third defensive touchdown of the season for West Branch and the first fumble recovery for the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Berry.
Players of the Week
Offensive Player of the Week: Regina junior running back Levi Daniel came up with perhaps the best game of his Regal career in the biggest game yet this season.
Daniel rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns and also caught two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown in a 26-8 win over West Branch.
Defensive Player of the Week: Liberty High senior defensive back Jacob Adam came up huge on Friday as Liberty High shut down a high-powered Fort Madison passing attack in a 24-16 road win.
Adam had a team-high seven tackles and picked off a pass as Liberty High held a sixth-ranked Fort Madison team that entered averaging more than 40 points per game to a season-low scoring output.
Special Teams Players of the Week: Liberty High got stellar special teams play from senior kicker Emerson Bennett and junior punter Hayden Saul in its road win at Fort Madison.
Bennett made all three of his extra point attempts and hit a 25-yard field goal and Saul averaged 48 yards per punt on three punts in the 24-16 win.
Offense: City High sophomore quarterback Drew Larson completed 7-of-11 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 31-14 loss to Pleasant Valley.
Offense: Clear Creek Amana senior receiver Harrison Rosenberg caught 11 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in a 34-7 loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Offense: Liberty High senior Darius Willis-Newell rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in a 24-16 win over Fort Madison.
Defense: City High senior defensive back Gable Mitchell had a team-high 12.5 tackles including seven solo stops in a 31-14 loss to Pleasant Valley
Defense: Regina senior Aidan Udell had a team-high 11 tackles including 10 solo stops in a 26-8 win over West Branch.