Game of the Week: Howard blanks Bulldogs, stays perfect with convincing victory
HOWARD -- Howard pitched another shutout and stayed unblemished on the season Friday.
The Class 9A No. 1 Tigers recorded a 39-0 win over Class 9A No. 4 De Smet in the Mitchell Republic’s Game of the Week.
The teams entered with stingy defenses, having combined for five shutouts on the season. But it was Howard’s defense that shined brightest as it smothered the Bulldogs all night.
“We played physical everywhere and we needed to because they play hard and we knew they would come in trying to play physical as well,” Howard coach Pat Ruml said. “Our defense overall has been like this all year. We adjust to what we do throughout the week and these guys really prepare well.”
Howard (6-0) didn’t allow De Smet (5-2) to get any offensive momentum going and constantly got pressure in the backfield, either pressuring quarterback Colt Wilkinson or stuffing running back Kalen Garry.
“It all started with our ends crashing down,” Howard running back/defensive back Riley Genzlinger said. “They like to run up the middle as we’ve been watching film all week. Our ends were crashing it down and our backs were filling hard. We just cleaned it up and we had five guys on the ball every play.”
Howard’s offense also got in on the fun. Genzlinger scored two rushing touchdowns, while John Callies also ran in a score. Tisyn Spader also connected with Sam Aslesen for a third-quarter touchdown reception.
But it was Lane Miller’s fumble recovery for a touchdown that helped turn the tide for the Tigers. Genzlinger’s touchdown run made it 15-0 early in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Miller recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown just 11 seconds after Genzlinger’s score.
“That was probably the game changer right there,” Genzlinger said. “When we are only up by two touchdowns, and scoring like that on special teams, that’s big.”
The scoop and score made it 22-0, and more importantly, momentum was all on Howard’s side. Genzlinger added another second-quarter score for a 30-0 halftime lead.
“It takes a lot out of their team when something like that happens,” Ruml said. “When we got the ball back, it was back to ground and pound and I think that took a toll on them.”
After Spader’s touchdown pass to Aslesen, Howard’s Samuel Callies recorded a sack for a safety to put an exclamation point on the night.
It was Howard’s second win over a top-five Class 9A team this season. The Tigers also edged then-Class 9A No. 1 Canistota/Freeman on Sept. 11 in a 16-14 triple-overtime thriller.
But despite another impressive win over a quality opponent, the Tigers will be right back to work on Monday.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Genzlinger said. “We are not perfect yet. We have to keep practicing hard every week and keep getting better every game.”
The Tigers will play Oldham-Ramona/Rutland on Oct. 9 in Rutland. The Bulldogs will play an opponent to be determined on Oct. 16 in their season finale.