Friday Night Lights 2014: First Round

It’s playoff time! For tonight’s first round, my dad and I headed to West Branch to see the Bears take on the Sigourney-Keota Comets.

Usually when we visit the Little Rose Bowl, we sit at the top of the hill in the southwest corner. Tonight we busted out our camping chairs in the northeast corner, where we sat with a couple West Branch natives that my dad knows. We were on the visitors’ sideline, so there was a number of Comets fans around us. I really did not care who won the game — I just wanted to see a good game, not a blowout — so it did not bother me being around both sets of fans. Unfortunately for me and those who traveled all the way from Sigourney and Keota, the Bears basically romped.

(Here is something I did not realize: Sigourney and Keota both have their own high schools and a number of their own athletic teams, but join forces for both football and wrestling. Interesting. I always thought Sigourney-Keota was a consolidated high school and school district.)

The Bears pounded the ground, scoring touchdowns on one- and four-yard runs to take the lead, 14–0, after their first two drives. After their ineffective first possession, I did not think Sigourney-Keota was going to score. The Comets seemed one-dimensional with something akin to a triple read option. (Perhaps there was no read on some plays.) On their second possession, the Comets were backed up in the shadow of their own goal post and faced something like a second-and-thirty, but bailed themselves out on a run and a long pass play. The Comets continued their drive downfield and their do-it-all running back scored on a 14-yard run. A missed PAT made the score 14–6.

On the next drive, the Comets held the Bears to a three-and-out. However, the Comets’ punt returner muffed the punt and the Bears recovered on Sigourney-Keota’s 33. A couple plays later, West Branch punched it into the end zone and extended their lead, 21–6. After forcing the Comets to punt (I keep writing “Coments” for some reason), the Bears took over at their own 6-yard line. On the first play, West Branch’s bruising back busted loose and ran 94 yards for what was probably his fourth touchdown of the half. The PAT made the score 28–6.

I cannot remember why, but the Comets started their next drive on the West Branch 45. They pushed the ball to the 14-yard line and, on third-down, the QB floated a pass toward the end zone and a wide open receiver. However, the pass was a touch too long and the receiver could not control it. The Comets tried to convert on fourth down, but were stuffed by the Bears. With under two minutes left in the half, West Branch moved the ball down the field with a couple passes, the receivers stopping the clock by stepping out of bounds. It looked like the Bears were going to score again before halftime, but a pass up the middle, which looked like it was going to be caught by a streaking West Branch Bear and taken into the end zone, was intercepted, keeping the score 28–6.

Tonight was very cool. Okay, I’ll say it: it was cold. It was Triclimate, gloves, and stocking hat cold — and sitting made it worse. By halftime, my fingers and toes were frozen. Grr.

After the Comets turned the ball over on downs on the first drive of the third quarter, the Bears drove 57 yards to score another touchdown on the ground, increasing the lead to 35–6. The Comets then put together a 78-yard scoring drive, putting the ball in the end zone with an 18-yard run. The Comets lined up for a two-point conversion and everyone in the Little Rose Bowl probably expected them to run. Nope. The Comets’ QB channeled his inner Tim Tebow for a short jump pass to a receiver up the middle. What a play call! I was impressed, but the West Branch fans around us were a bit peeved.

The next couple drives ended in punts, but West Branch drove the ball into the red zone to start the fourth quarter. The Bears turned it over own downs on the 3-yard line and we decided we had had enough of a cold, playoff night in West Branch. The Bears went on to win, 49–22.

Will this be the last high school football game we see in 2014? I hope not. West High and Solon both won, so hopefully one of them will be hosting their second round game on Monday.

Before signing off, I just thought I would note an interesting typo among the scores. On the CRG, it appears Belmond-Klemme beat Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 186–49. Whoa! Talk about offense. However, I checked the DMR website and found a different result: Gladbrook-Reinbeck 49, Belmond-Klemme 18.

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