Clear Lake falls in the UNI-Dome, 48-13, to #1 Sioux City Heelan
Big plays and turnovers lifted top ranked and undefeated Sioux City Heelan to a 48-13 victory over Clear Lake in the State semi-finals played Thursday, Nov. 14, in the UNI-Dome.
Big plays came early and often, courtesy of Heelan quarterback Trenton Solsma. Solsma completed his first 23
passes, throwing for 376 yards and five touchdowns. Solsma kept the Lion defense on its heels, using seven receivers in his attack. The Crusaders typically set up drives with short passes or runs, followed by a Solsma bomb for a score. His line included TD passes of 83 and 65-yards.
Heelan set the stage for their powerful performance from the start. The Crusaders took the opening kickoff and moved the ball down the field efficiently. A sure score was stopped when Clear Lake’s Ernie Miszewski intercepted an under-thrown pass by Solsma in the endzone. Miszewski was a spark for the Lions throughout the game, as the junior eluded tacklers in four kickoff returns, averaging 25-yards each return.
Early on Clear Lake showed they could also move the ball. After gaining a first down on their first possession, they were forced to punt and the Crusaders turned the possession into a score with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Miszewski took the kickoff from the five-yard-line to the 38. He might have gone the distance, but the Crusader kicker made a saving tackle. With a good block from Matt Stephany, Chandler Diercks took the ball to the 18-yard-line and the second-ranked Lions were threatening. A pair of defensive stops and an incomplete pass brought kicker Logan Kracht on the field. The senior booted a 39-yard field goal to get the Lions on the board, 7-3.
The Crusaders quickly took the wind out of Clear Lake’s sails, with Solsma completing a 65-yard pass to Tucker Spears for a touchdown, 14-3.
The Lions kept their heads up, with Miszsewski returning the kickoff to the Heelan 48. The Crusaders stopped the drive at the six, setting up another Kracht fieldgoal and making the score, 14-6 just before the end of the first quarter.
Solsma again threw water on the determined Lions with his second long touchdown pass of the game. One minute into the second quarter Solsma connected on a 83-yard TD pass to Philip Jacobson. A successful PAT put the score at 21-6. The scoring continued on their next possession when a Solsma pass went in and out of the hands of one receiver and landed in the hands of another in the endzone.
A pair of Brock Adams interceptions set up two more touchdown passes from Solsma before halftime. One PAT was blocked, resulting in a 41-6 halftime lead. Adams was often under pressure and was sacked three times in the game. He completed five of 12 pass attempts for just 37-yards. The junior QB ran the ball himself nine times for 19-yards.
Clear Lake’s Connor Nosbisch intercepted a Solsma pass early in the third quarter, but the Lions could not build on the change of possession. A Clear Lake fumble was turned into a touchdown by Heelan, pushing the score to 48-6 in the third.
Heelan reserves played the fourth quarter and yielded a Lion touchdown. Alex Gonzalez scored the Lions’ only touchdown in the game with 2:35 remaining. Gonzalez ran the ball three times in the game for 10-yards and caught one pass for 15.
The Crusaders piled up 435 yards on offense, while holding the Lions to 218.
Clear Lake Coach Fred Wieck acknowledged Heelan’s impressive offense, saying his team had trouble getting through the sizable Crusader line to pressure Solsma. “There wasn’t much we could do to slow him down,” he said. “Hat’s off to Heelan. They were the better team tonight.”
Diercks, a junior, was the leading rusher for the Lions. He carried the ball 11 times for 76-yards. Senior Pete Swenson ran seven times for 58 yards and caught one pass for 11. Senior fullback Carter Hand carried nine times for 33. Hand also had a reception for 11-yards.
Swenson was also a leader on defense with three solo tackles and 12 total. Junior MaKean Bang finished with nine tackles. Diercks also had three solo takedowns and seven total tackles in the game. Zach Merfeld had four solo and four assisted tackles. Hand, Miszewski, Nosbisch and Zachary Zwiefel each were credited with four tackles in the game. Tamarik Lee finished with three, Tim Franken had two and Mitchell Keeran made one tackle.
The Lions finished their season with a 12-1 record. Heelan improved to 13-0 and will face Washington in the Class 3A championship game Thursday night. The sixth-ranked Demons beat eighth-ranked Solon 14-9 in the other 3A semi-final game.