For a team that wasn’t even picked to be in the top four of their district at the beginning of the season, the Garner-Hayfield/Ventura football team is now making other teams take notice. On the line in Friday night’s matchup with Forest City (7-2), was second place in Class 2A, District 2 and a home game advantage in the first round of playoffs. The Cardinals rose to the challenge and topped the Indians, 7-0.
“I can’t explain how proud I am of these young men,” said Coach Scott VanDusseldorp, whose team improved to 5-1 in the district and 6-3 overall. “They played an extremely physical ball game and really stepped up. This victory was a real team effort.”
G-H/V’s defense really came through, according to Coach VanDusseldorp. Although Forest City had 230 total yards of offense, compared to 88 for the Cardinals, the defense kept the Indians out of the endzone. And G-H/V came out on top where it really counted - on the scoreboard.
The lone score of the game came early for the Cardinals. Midway through the first quarter, senior linebacker Keith Schwickerath stripped the ball from Forest City’s Josh Dakken near the five-yard line. Senior defensive back Alex Van Gerpen took over from there, scooping up the fumble and running it 95-yards for the TD. Kicker Braden Meints connected on the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The rest of the game was a battle of the defenses, with neither team scoring.
Forest City held G-H/V to four first downs and 88 total yards of offense on 43 plays. Forest City was 14/30 passing for 205 yards, while the Cardinals were 0/2 passing. G-H/V did lead the Indians in rushing yards, with 88 yards compared to 25. The Cardinals also recorded four sacks for a loss of 28 yards.
Van Gerpen was the leading ground gainer with 60 yards on 24 carries. Josh Englster had 33 yards on six attempts and Mark Wellik picked up 11 yards on three carries.
Van Gerpen also led the defense collecting nine solo and four assisted tackles. Also leading the team in tackles were Nic Tusha, with six solo and four assisted tackles, and Englster with three solo and four assists. Meints recorded three solo and four assists. Spencer Shaw had three solo tackles, while Corey Dodd, Tyler Buck and Colton Knutson all recorded two solo tackles.
“To end up second in the district is a real testament to how hard these young men have worked all year,” said VanDusseldorp.
The Cardinals host Central Lyon/GLR (6-3) for the first round of playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Game time is 7 p.m. The winner of that game will go on to play Monday, Oct. 29.
Scores from Class 2A
•G-H/V 7, Forest City 0
•Clarion-Goldfield 27, Hampton-Dumont 10
•SC Calhoun 27, E. Sac County 8
•Spirit Lake 52, Esterville LC 21