It’s been said that defense wins championships, but the scoreboard only showed that for one team on Friday.
The Forest City Indians and Clear Lake Lions would each total three turnovers in addition to racking up the sack numbers. Clear Lake sacked junior Luke Johnson six times while Forest City sacked sophomore Jaylen DeVries three times, including a forced fumble.
“They started blitzing a lot, a lot of backers, our scheme should pick all that up, we just weren’t executing,” head coach Jared DeVries said. “We had it going early and I think we just got a little relaxed.”
But a slow second quarter and a scoreless third were made up on big plays by the Lions as they shut out the Indians 29-0.
The Lions got started early with a lengthy drive down field behind junior running back Alex Snelling. Jaylen DeVries launched a 22 yard pass to junior Drew Enke for the first touchdown to take the 7-0 lead.
The Lions would get the ball back at the Indians’ 11-yard line following a blocked punt. This time, sophomore Nick Danielson would carry the ball in for a second touchdown, 14-0.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” Lester said. “We had like five three-and-outs the first quarter and they got us the ball in good position, so that set us up well.”
Much of the second quarter was defensive. DeVries fumbled a snap to give the Indians the ball, but nothing would come of it. Senior Sam Snyder fumbled a punt return to give the Lions the ball at their own 34-yard line, but he would redeem himself a couple of plays later with an interception to give the Indians back the ball.
Forest City remained scoreless despite turnovers, and with 1:08 left, the Lions would score again. Following a 15-yard reception by Enke, Snelling carried the ball in for a one-yard touchdown run. Senior Zach Lester tricked the Indians’ defense with a field-goal fake run to the outside, grabbing the two-point conversion to put the Lions up 22-0 at the half.
A scoreless third quarter showed tough defensive play on both sides with neither team able to create a run game.
Junior Kade Hambly would make his return to the field known on the Lions’ defense, adding two additional sacks to his total of three for the night.
“We’re excited to have him back,” Coach DeVries said. “We’ve got a lot of kids back. We’re going to need all hands on deck with 27 healthy bodies.”
Forest City senior Easton Jacobs racked up an interception and junior Tony Thomas aided in a sack with Snyder.
Two back-to-back turnovers started the fourth quarter. Junior Chase Stuver made an interception to give the Lions back the ball, but on the very next play, Snyder launched himself at Jaylen DeVries for a sack fumble to get the ball back.
Forest City had multiple opportunities to drive. Junior Blaze Andersen had a 23-yard reception to drive the ball down field, a targeting penalty added to that after he was knocked down on the sideline. Snyder also had a 13-yard reception late in the game, but the Indians would go three-and-out on both opportunities.
The only score in the second half would be a 63-yard touchdown pass by DeVries to Lester in the fourth. Lester’s PAT capped off the final score, 29-0.
“He’s fantastic,” DeVries said. “He does everything we ask him to do as coaches, he’s on all our special teams and he’s a big part of what we do offensively and on defensive field as well. He’s obviously the best athlete in the high school and he showed that tonight.”
But looking forward, DeVries is hesitant to get too confident.
“We have to get our run game established, point blank,” he said.