For most teams a 32 point win is a blow out. But the Ness City football team is not most teams. The Eagles had won their previous 12 games, heading into Saturday's 8-Man Division I title game, by an average of 43 points, and the closest game was a 32 point win.
Rock Hills was up to the challenge of knocking down Goliath, at least early. Both defenses refused to budge and the game was scoreless after one quarter.
Early in the second quarter came the game changer. Backed up to its own end zone, Rock Hills was forced to punt and Tucker VonLehe got his big paw on the ball, Will Frusher fell on the ball for the games first score. The Eagles lead 6-0
"It was huge. We needed a spark and that is kind of what these guys have done all year," said Eagles head coach Chris Bamberger. "We need a spark and someone does it and you never know who it is going to be."
Ness City would then go on a scoring flurry before the half. Kotlyn Ratliff hit Dalton Gantz for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 12-0 Eagles. Just two minutes later, Gatnz broke loose for a 61 yard score giving Ness City a 20-0 lead at the half.
Just as in quarter number one, defenses ruled quarter number three. Rock Hills looked like they might score the team's first touchdown, but Ratliff picked off Chanse Copple in the end zone. So the game remained 20-0 heading into the final quarter.
That's when the Eagles would break the game wide open. Ratliff scored from one yard out to make it 26-0, and then he got a pick six to stretch the Eagle lead to 32-0.
Rock Hills would score its lone touchdown on a one yard run by Clay Cosand.
But Ness City would stretch the lead back out to that magic number 32, when Gantz broke free for a 22 yard score. The Eagles win the 8-Man Division I title, 40-8 over Rock Hills.
"It's the best thing, I can't compare it to anything," said Gantz. "We worked so hard to get here. And to be called a state champion, I can't even explain it right now. It's incredible."
It's finishes off a 13-0 run for the Eagles, during which they invoked the mercy rule nine times. It's a long way from a Ness City team that, not so long ago was just another struggling 11-Man football team.
"We hired Chris Bamberger as our coach and he has really brought us together on and off the field," said Ratliff. " And playing together from eight grade all the way through had really helped us. We just came together as a family."
But Bamberger said this win in all about this team, and their hard work.
"These boys have worked so stinkin' hard and they absolutely deserve this and this feeling," said Bamberger. "And I am so proud of them for it."