Raiders, Redskins Slug It Out

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With 59 combined points in their last meeting and eight games of 40 points or more between them, Saturday’s playoff game between Nokomis and Central A&M could have been a shootout. Instead it was a defensive grind that wasn’t decided until the final moments, with Central A&M coming away with a narrow 14-6 win.

“They did what we asked them to. They left it all out on the field,” Head Coach Paul Watson said. “We had a great week of practice and we told them to come out and play physical and play hard and maybe we will get some breaks. It just didn’t go our way.”

The Redskins held Central A&M to just 209 yards, their third fewest of the season and the fewest the Raiders had in a win. Only Tuscola (151) and St. Teresa (207) had held the Raiders to fewer yards. By comparison, Nokomis allowed 464 yards in their first meeting in week three.

“We were coming up and filling the funnel, which we preach a lot, and gang tackling. They did awesome defensively,” Watson said of his team, who held Central A&M to under 25 yards in seven of their nine drives. “Offensively, we just couldn’t sustain drives like we’re used to.”

Central A&M’s defense returned the favor against the Redskins, holding them to 165 total offensive yards, their second lowest total of the season behind the 132 they accumulated in the Pana mud bowl and 221 yards below their average.

Both teams punted on their first possession and Central A&M turned the ball over on downs on their second thanks to a leaping near interception by senior Isaac Satterlee.

Nokomis started their second series on their own 25, but weren’t able to get much going and were forced to punt. A bad snap would result in an 18-yard loss and set up Central A&M’s first score.

Starting from the Redskin six-yard line, the Raiders got the first score of the game with 3:22 to play in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Drew Damery found James Paradee on a six-yard strike.

Central A&M threatened to add to their 8-0 lead on their next drive after a 50-yard run by Will Thompson and a 21-yard reception Caleb Woods put the ball back on the Nokomis six.

This time, the Nokomis defense held, benefitting from a 10-yard holding penalty by the Raiders. On fourth and six, Central A&M tried a fake field goal, but the referee determined that the holder’s knee was down when the ball was received, meaning the Redskins took over on downs at the Nokomis 15.

Both teams would get the ball twice more in the second quarter, but none of the drives ended in scores as the Raiders clung to an 8-0 lead at the break.

Nokomis got the ball to start the second half and had their longest offensive play of the game in the drive when quarterback Connor Overby connected with Landon Engelman for a 37-yard gain.

Three plays later it was fourth and four and it looked like Matt Hill gained the first down on a run up the middle, but the chains told a different story and Central A&M got the ball back on their own 18.

After the teams traded unsuccessful drives, the Raiders added to their lead, a nine-play, 73-yard drive that culminated with a 16-yard pass from Paradee to Woods to make the score 14-0 with 7:43 to play.

This time, Nokomis answered, with Matt Hill breaking a 65-yard kickoff return to give his team the ball at the A&M 15. Seven plays later, Overby connected with Cooper Bertolino for a six-yard score with 3:40 to play.

The Redskins would try for the onsides kick, but A&M recovered and were able to run out the remainder of the clock to move on to round two of the playoffs.

While the end result wasn’t what Nokomis wanted, Coach Watson was proud of his team’s effort and believed that it will help the program going forward.

“It shows these younger guys that are coming back what’s possible,” Coach Watson said. “It was a hard hitting game and that’s what Nokomis football is. We’re due for a long run in the playoffs and we’ll keep building on it.”

The game was also the final one for Nokomis’ 13 seniors, who went to the playoffs two of the last three years, with the exception last year’s undefeated 6-0 COVID campaign.

“These guys are 20-6 over the last three years, which is outstanding,” said Watson, who has had four straight winning seasons at the helm of the Redskins. “I told them they’re part of the Nokomis football tradition that we’re building on and they put their mark on it.”

That mark wasn’t just left on the school’s record books, but its fans as well, who left the game with four years worth of memories.

October 30 at Nokomis

Central A&M (7-3) 8 0 0 6 14

Nokomis (7-3) 0 0 0 6 6

Scoring Summary

1st - 3:22 - (C ) - James Paradee 6-yard TD reception from Drew Damery (Brody Barnes pass from Drew Damery)

4th - 7:43 - (C ) - Caleb Woods 16-yard TD reception from James Paradee (pass failed)

4th - 3:40 - (N) - Cooper Bertolino 6-yard TD reception from Connor Overby (kick failed)

Nokomis Statistics

Passing (5-7-59): Connor Overby 4-5-52, 1 TD; Landon Engelman 1-1-7; Jake Johnson 0-1, 1 INT.

Rushing (28-106): Connor Overby 4-39; Matt Hill 8-32; Jake Watson 7-16; Landon Engelman 7-16; Jake Johnson 2-3.

Receiving (5-59): Landon Engelman 2-44; Cooper Bertolino 2-8, 1 TD; Isaac Satterlee 1-7.

Defense (Solo/Assists): Jake Johnson 1/9; Cooper Bertolino 3/7; Tanner Woolard 5/3; Isaac Satterlee 3/3; Nolan Ernst 2/3; Connor Overby 1/4; Craig Bertolino 0/5; Jake Watson 3/1; Matt Hill 0/4; Ryan Eisenbarth 1/2; Brenton Lyons 0/1; Wyatt Dooley 0/1; Zaylon Sisk 0/1; Mason Morris 0/1.

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