Number 1-ranked Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, the defending Class 2A state champions who have won 19 of their last 20 games and now boasts a 7-0 record this season, performed as billed here Friday night, decking a game Cherokee squad 44-7 in District football action.
Tantamount to the Lions’ victory was the record chase of Cherokee junior quarterback Tyler Jones, who needed 139 yards to break the state’s all-time prep career passing yardage. Facing a stiff challenge from the stout CL/G-LR defense, Jones finished the game with 15 completions on 37 passes for 138 yards - one incredible yard short of the all-time Iowa prep record.
The punishing Lions’ ground game, which has led to the shiny record and state title the past two years, totaled 402 yards on 61 carries as CL/G-LR controlled the ball much of the way, keeping the potent Cherokee offense on the sideline.
The Lions’ coveted senior quarterback Nate DeJong, a 6-3, 215-pound athletic dynamo, roughed up the Cherokee defense with 16 carries for 179 yards - many on third and long that kept the visitors in possession of the ball and prevented the Braves’ offense from doing its thing.
DeJong was 2-5 passing for 58 yards, including a 42-yard TD bomb to Jordan Gacke.
CL/G-LR scored on a one yard run by DeJong, the 42-yard pass to Gacke, a 16-yard run by Dylan Reynolds, a one-yard run by Reynolds, a 23-yard field goal by Brett Busch, a four-yard run by DeJong, and a three-yard run by Reynolds.
Cherokee’s lone TD came in the second quarter on an 18-yard pass from Jones to Mark Johnson. It was Reynolds’ one-yard TD with seconds to go in the first half that gave the Lions a 28-7 lead and enough momentum to take over in the second half.
The winners notched 21 first downs, to just seven for the Braves. The Lions were flagged 11 times for 95 yards, and Cherokee four times for 35 yards.
Leading defenders for the Braves were Mark Johnson, Wayne Thompson, and Tyler Lundsgaard with 13 tackles apiece, and Chris Campbell and Tom Weaver with 10 each.
“We gave a great effort and never quit,” said Cherokee coach Tony Napierala. “We didn’t execute at critical times and they made first downs on several third-and-long and that killed us.
“I’m very proud of our kids. They kept hitting and had some fun aout there aganst one heck of a team. They’ve won 19 of 20 games for a reason, and we just coouldn’t stay with them. They’re very deserving of all their accolades and have a lot of talent and size. We’ll keep working and plug along.”
The Braves,3-4 over all and 2-3 in District, host dangerous Sioux Center (5-2 and 4-1) Friday night.