(Above) Clear Lake’s Nick Danielson is swarmed by Waukon players in Friday night’s Class 3A playoff game. Also pictured for Clear Lake is Max McKenna, Sean Wendel and Ryan Thomas. -Reporter photos by Chris Barragy
Fourth rated Waukon brought Clear Lake’s football season to a close Friday night in the opening round of Class 3A play-offs. The Indians started fast and never looked back on their way to a 46-16 victory.
“It was a great season. It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Clear Lake Coach Jared DeVries after the game. “I love these kids to death and wouldn’t trade ‘em for the world.”
After the Lions failed to make the playoffs last year for the first time in 19 years, the 2017 squad showed the determination which DeVries said he has admired all season. They finished as runner-up in a balanced Class 3A District 4, challenging for the District title until the last game. “We just ran into a group of athletes tonight. The best we’ve seen this year. They are a very, very good team,” said DeVries.
With the win Waukon (9-1) advances to play New Hampton. The Chickasaws downed the Lions in the final game of the regular season to win the District 4 title. Clear Lake ended its season with a 7-3 record.
After both teams went three-and-out on their opening possessions, Waukon struck quickly on their second series. Senior back Mitchell Snitker ran 73-yards for the first of his five touchdowns in the game with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter. The Indians follow up their scores with two-point tries and were successful on all but one in the game.
Less than one-minute into the second quarter Waukon scored again, this time on a five play, 75-yard drive, to make the score 16-0.
The Indians, who are the top scoring team in Class 2A, added another Snitker TD within minutes to push the gap to 24-0.
Senior Luke Eggers interrupted the Indian scoring machine briefly with an interception of quarterback Abe Schwartz midway through the second quarter. The play seemed to give the Lion offense the boost it needed, as Jaylen DeVries and company took over on the Indian 34. With the help of a Waukon personal foul, the Lions moved the ball to the three-yard line and were leaning toward the end zone when the ball popped out and was recovered by the Indians for a touchback.
The Lion defense stayed strong and kept the Indians out of the end zone for the remainder of the half, but Waukon had picked up 269-yards of offense, compared to 60-yards for the home team.
Three-minutes into the second half the Indians tacked on another score and two-point conversion for a 32-0 lead. Snitker recorded his fifth touchdown with 4:48 remaining in the third, 38-0. Snitker, who was pulled in the fourth, finished the night with 232-yards on 19 carries. By the time the third quarter ended the score was 46-0.
Clear Lake got on the scoreboard early in the fourth when DeVries began to find his receivers. He made completions to Nick Danielson and Zach Lester which moved the ball from their own 25 to the Indian 20. A 20-yard completion to Danielson gave the Lions their first score. Lester pulled off the two-point conversion to get the team on the board, 46-8. During the series DeVries set a new school record for single season passing, surpassing the mark set by 2012 CLHS graduate Ozzie Adams. DeVries finished the game with 58-yards of passing, completing five of 19 attempts.
Lester scored the final touchdown of his high school career midway through the fourth quarter. He took a pitch from the 38 and used his speed to reach pay dirt, 46-14. The two-point try was complete to Tate Storbeck, 46-16.
Lester, a senior, rushed for 39-yards on two carries. Danielson had 32-yards on five totes and senior Speed Toyne rushed nine times for 30-yards.