You could hardly blame Arkansas City for getting its hopes up playing Kapaun Mount Carmel. Not only have the Bulldogs been performing better than Kapaun, the Crusaders would be playing with a freshman quarterback making his first varsity start.
But that freshman quarterback was pretty good Friday night and suddenly, so were the Crusaders in a 31-14 victory. Brock Monty, a 14-year-old who won the starting job Wednesday, ran for two touchdowns.
“He’s really talented and I don’t think they’ve really missed a beat, as far as their quarterback situation goes,” Ark City coach Jon Wiemers said. “He managed it real well. When he pulled it and ran, he’s got some speed and he’s hard to tackle.”
As Monty will be the first to tell you, he’s even harder to tackle behind Kapaun’s offensive linemen.
“I love those guys,” Monty said. “Our offensive line was playing great; driving it down their throats. We’re hard to stop when everything clicks. It clicked tonight.”
Starting with the opening drive. Kapaun’s option-based offense gobbled up nearly seven minutes of the clock with a 79-yard, 17-play drive. It had only one pass, Monty’s nine-yarder to Toby Baxter. It ended with a three-yard touchdown run by senior running back Nick Heiland.
“The opening drive just really set the attitude for the team,” Heiland said. “We tried to show them several versions of our offensive run. We were kind of testing it, we found some things that worked and that kind of set the tone.”
If the opening drive set the tone, what happened next broke Ark City’s spirit a little bit.
The Bulldogs started on their on 18-yard line. On their second play, following a two-yard run, Ark City quarterback Riley Dowler threw an interception to Kapaun linebacker Sam Wescott.
“When I saw that ball get caught, I knew that was going to be a chance to make a statement,” Heiland said.
The Crusaders capitalized by scoring another touchdown, a two-yarder by Heiland. Just like that, Kapaun was ahead 14-0 on Arkansas City, which fell to 5-3 and had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Kapaun (3-5) won back-to-back games for the first time this season and is in good shape to win its seventh consecutive district title.
“It wasn’t perfect, but we executed,” Kapaun coach Dan Adelhardt said. “We didn’t have false starts, we didn’t fumble the football, we didn’t put ourselves in second and long situations … It was just a combination of people executing.”
Wiemers, for one, was impressed. His Bulldogs were only able to run 15 offensive plays in the first half.
“They make you be responsible with that offense,” Wiemers said. “You can’t miss one thing or they’ll make you pay for it. That’s kind of what an option offense does. People like to separate offense and defense but they really kind of work together. We never could really establish a rhythm on offense, especially in the first half.
“Kapaun’s got a big, physical o-line, probably bigger than what we’ve faced so far. But it doesn’t really matter how big you are. Kapaun’s been here, they’ve done it, they have experience in the playoffs. They’ve won (the district) for years. We just haven’t quite got over the hump mentally as far as those things go.”
The Crusaders never trailed and they were able to slow Dowler, save for a 47-yard run that set up Ark City’s first touchdown.
But by then, Ark City was already down 21-0.“I like to think we scheme right and keep people off balance,” Adelhardt said. “We platoon, our kids come in fresh and they get a lot of reps and hopefully there’s not a lot of surprises. They work hard on tackles and assignments and doing the little things.”