The two and a half hour bus ride to get to Edwards County High School in Albion on Sept. 25 was Nokomis’ longest of the year, but in the big scheme, the road trip took the Redskins a lot further in their ultimate goal of advancing to the playoffs.
Instead of needing to win three of their next four games to get to six wins and guarantee a playoff spot, the Redskins now need just two wins the rest of the way out after a 59-3 victory over the Lions.
“We have a couple big games coming up with Alton Marquette, Gillespie and Pana. Props to Mr. Reedy for getting us a game or we’d be sitting at home with no playoff points,” said Assistant Coach Ben Tarter. “Every point is crucial right now going into the playoff weeks.”
While playoff points are crucial and sometimes hard to come by, the Redskins had no problem finding points on the field on Saturday as they racked up 19 before the scoreboard turned over to the second quarter.
Jake Watson scored the first six of those 19 on a 67-yard run on Nokomis’ first offensive play of the game after the Redskin defense held Edwards County to a three-and-out to start the game.
Three plays and a punt by the Lions later and Nokomis would get the ball again, but gave it right back to Edwards County on a fumble.
The Lions looked like they had something going as sophomore quarterback Max Gerlach connected with 6’3” senior wide receiver Dylan Rhodes for a 20-yard gain and the team’s first first down.
The Lions’ stay in Redskin territory would be brief, though, as Craig Bertolino recovered a fumble on the next play and Nokomis sprinted down the field on offense on a 29-yard run by Watson and a 37-yard run by Matthew Hill before he was tripped up at the one. After an illegal motion penalty, Hill finished off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run, making the score 13-0 with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
The early trend continued to the delight of the Redskin faithful in the next two series, with Edwards County forced to punt after three plays, followed by a quick scoring drive from Nokomis. Hill broke a 43-yard run to make it down to the two yard line, setting up Watson’s second touchdown of the day to make it 19-0.
The Lions got another first down in their next drive, a 27-yard pass from Gerlach to Rhodes that put them on the Nokomis 34, but couldn’t push further into Redskin territory and turned the ball over on downs. Nokomis answered with a 23-yard run by Jake Johnson, with a penalty following the run moving the ball up to the Edwards County 28. Watson took over from there, breaking through for another touchdown to make it 27-0.
Things went from good to better after that, with Isaac Satterlee recovering the kickoff to put Nokomis back on offense. Connor Overby connected with Jake Johnson and Cooper Bertolino on a pair of 13-yard receptions in the drive, then scored his first touchdown of the game on a five-yard run to make it 34-0 after Ryan Quinn’s extra point at the 8:02 mark of the second.
Nokomis would get one more score before the half ended as they needed just three plays to cover 72 yards. After a 17-yard run by Jake Johnson, Overby hooked up with Satterlee for a 21-yard pitch and catch. Hill finished off the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left and Nokomis carried the 41-0 lead into halftime.
With a running clock in the second half, things moved quickly. Like they did in the first half, Nokomis scored on their first offensive play of the second half, a 60-yard run by Hill, who finished the game with 180 yards on just five carries.
Both teams would go three-and-out on their next series and a high snap gave Edwards County their best field position of the game, with the ball at the Nokomis six yard line. The Redskins defense managed to keep the Lions out of the endzone, but Edwards County broke up the shutout with a 25-yard field goal by Preston Wright to make it 47-3 late in the third quarter.
Nokomis picked up two more scores in the fourth quarter, both with the JV and both set up by sophomore Brenton Lyons. Lyons scored the first touchdown on an 18-yard run to make it 53-3, then picked off a pass and returned the ball to the 22-yard line when Edwards County got the ball back. Skylar Pavolko got the call after that and put the bow on the 59-3 victory in the final minute.
All told, it was a productive trip for the Redskins, who rushed for 492 yards on 33 carries, with Jake Watson joining Matt Hill in the century club with 160 yards on eight carries. Overby would go 3-for-4 with 50 yards passing as well as Nokomis went over 500 yards of offense for the first time this year. Conversely, the Redskin defense held the Lions to fewer than 50 yards on offense, with five tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery by Craig Bertolino
After back-to-back 40-plus point wins, the Redskins’ schedule gets more challenging in the second half of the season. Alton Marquette is up next for Nokomis and while the Explorers are 0-5 going into the game, they have historically been a thorn in Nokomis’ side. The two teams didn’t play in 2020, but Marquette has won five straight against the Redskins, with the last win coming in 2014 in a 15-14 affair.
Regardless of that history, Nokomis will be ready when the Explorers come to town on Oct. 1.
“We’ll ramp it up next week and work on our blitz packages and on containing the quarterback. We know he likes to scramble a lot,” Assistant Coach Tarter said. “I told the guys earlier that every week is going to get harder and harder with our big games coming up. This is our big stretch to get those wins and become playoff eligible.”
Sept. 25 at Albion
Nokomis (4-1) 19 22 6 12 59
Edwards (0-5) 0 0 3 0 3
1st - 9:57 - (N) - Jake Watson 67-yard TD run (Ryan Quinn kick)
1st - 5:16 - (N) - Matthew Hill 6-yard TD run (kick failed)
1st - 1:51 - (N) - Jake Watson 1-yard TD run (pass failed)
2nd - 10:00 - (N) - Jake Watson 28-yard TD run (2-pt. run)
2nd - 8:02 - (N) - Connor Overby 5-yard TD run (Ryan Quinn kick)
2nd - 4:58 - (N) - Matthew Hill 34-yard TD run (Ryan Quinn kick)
3rd - 10:56 - (N) - Matthew Hill 60-yard TD run (Ryan Quinn kick)
3rd - 2:00 - (E) - Preston Wright 25-yard field goal
4th - 7:50 - (N) - Brenton Lyons 18-yard TD run (kick failed)
4th - 0:38 - (N) - Skylar Pavolko 19-yard TD run (run failed)
Passing (3-4-50): Connor Overby 3-4-50.
Rushing (33-492): Matthew Hill 5-180, 3 TD; Jake Watson 8-160, 3 TD; Jake Johnson 4-56; Brenton Lyons 4-40, 1 TD; Skylar Pavolko 4-31, 1 TD; Craig Bertolino 3-13; Ryan Quinn 1-10; Connor Overby 3-8, 1 TD; Garret Engelman 1-5.
Receiving (3-50): Isaac Satterlee 1-21; Cooper Bertolino 1-16; Jake Johnson 1-13.
Defense (Solo/Assists): Jake Watson 2/5; Craig Bertolino 2/3, 1 fumble recovery; Garret Engelman 1/2; Cooper Bertolino 1/2; Zaylon Sisk 0/3; Kaden Cook 0/3; Nolan Ernst 1/1; Kaeden Loafman 2/0; Jaxon Batty 0/2; Jackson Kirk 1/1; Matthew Hill 0/2; Wyatt Dooley 0/2; Skylar Pavolko 0/2; Connor Overby 1/0; Kendall Coss 1/0; Ryan Eisenbarth 0/1; Glenn Goodin 0/1; Tanner Woolard 0/1; Mason Morris 0/1; Isaac Satterlee 0/1; Kolin Reynolds 0/1; Brenton Lyons 1 INT.