The 6th-rated Carroll Kuemper Knights established their superiority early by scoring on their first possession on the way to a 21-0 first-quarter onslaught, culminating in a resounding 35-0 District football win over an enigmatic Cherokee team here Friday night in the throes of celebrating Homecoming.
Carroll Kuemper's Michael Strautman heads downfield with the ball as Cherokee defenders Seth Mahnke, right, and Miah Back (57) give pursuit during the Braves Homecoming game against the Knights in Cherokee Friday night. Photo by Paul Struck
The 5-1 Knights, whose only setback is a 21-7 loss to the football mega-merger South Central Calhoun (Southern Cal/Rockwell City-Lytton), raced out to a 28-0 halftime lead, and then added a touchdown in the third quarter to establish a 35-point lead and a continuous clock the rest of the second half and - zoom! - it was over just like that.
Kuemper rushed the ball 34 times for 290 yards and three TDs, with Michael Strautman leading the way with 21 carries for 181 yards and two TDs, while teammate Josh Axman carried the ball eight times for 78 yards and one TD.
The Knights' Strautman scored on TD runs of nine and one yards, and Josh Axman scored on a two-yard run.
Cherokee assistant coach Mike Nixon, middle, fires up the Braves during a break in the action at Friday night's Homecoming game against 6th rated Carroll Kuemper. Coach Neil Phipps and assistant coach Bruce Dagel listen in. Photo by Paul Struck
Kuemper's senior quarterback Taylor Pudenz completed 6-14 passes for 147 yards and two TDs. Those TDs were a 67-yard yard pass from Pudenz to tight end Tyler Heuton on a blown coverage by the Braves secondary, and a 16-yard TD pass from Pudenz to receiver Cody Williams.
The Braves could muster just a scant 27 yards rushing against the pesky Kuemper defense on 24 carries. Kristian Freed led Cherokee on the ground with nine hauls for 34 yards.
Cherokee quarterback Nate Seliger completed just 4-18 passes for 72 yards and one interception as he had little time to pass from the Kuemper defensive push. Seth Mahnke led Cherokee receivers with two catches for 55 yards.
Cherokee assistant coach Chad Osler encourages players Jakob Hummel, Nate Seliger (6) and Adam Pitts during the Braves District tussle with 6th ranked Carroll Kuemper here Friday night. Photo by Paul Struck
"They're a good football team," said Cherokee coach Neil Phipps. "They have good athletes and have a lot of good kids. They took us out of everything we were trying to do. We're a bit banged up at the skill positions and they picked up on that.
"But I've got confidence in our kids and know they can do it. We just have to buckle down and do it. We're capable."
The Braves managed just six first downs, compared to 14 by the Knights.
Cherokee lineman Manny Bustos takes a well-deserved drink of water during the Braves Homecoming game against Carroll Kuemper here Friday night. Photo by Paul Struck
Freed paced the Braves on defense from his linebacker position with nine tackles, while Alanzo Ruble registered eight, and Mahnke seven. Ruble also had a fumble recovery.
The 2-4 Braves, now 2-2 in District play, travel to East Sac County Friday night for another Class 2A District toughie. Kuemper (5-1) hosts 5-1 Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove in Carroll.