It has been seven long years and the Steve Kriegel Trophy has once again returned home. The Trojans travelled to Grinnell on Friday Aug. 29 to take on their longtime rivals for the annual pigskin battle. As previously mentioned the last time the Steve Kriegel Trophy took up residence at South Tama was in 2007. It's a new era for the Trojans who, according to head coach Jay Hoskey, are really adopting the mantra of being physical, playing hard, and finishing what they start this season. Those ideals are clearly taking root as the Trojans captured the Kriegel Trophy after a show of domination in a 34-7 victory.
Shortly after the players headed into the locker rooms Coach Hoskey spoke of the team's excitement saying, "It feels great for these kids, it's exciting. Grinnell has had a good program and we've been trying to get this thing going and this is a great stepping stone to that."
South Tama wasted no time letting the Tigers know that while it may be "their house", the Trojans weren't leaving empty handed. The Tigers, who began the night on offense, were met with massive resistance on their opening drive and after four quick downs were forced to punt the ball away early in the first quarter.
Members of the STC Trojan’s varsity football team celebrate after being presented with the Steve Kriegel Trophy on Friday Aug. 29. The Trojans dominated the game on Grinnell’s field winning 34-7 for the first time since 2007.
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham
The Trojans put their first touchdown on the board with a quarterback keeper by Dalton Doyle from the one-yard line. Adrian Castanon kicking the extra point put the Trojans up 7-0 halfway through the first quarter.
As time progressed not much would go right for the Tigers on either side of the ball. After gaining possession following the Trojans first touchdown the Tigers Ethan Cline recovered a fumble that provided a brief sigh of relief, as the ball was now deep in the Trojan territory. On the Tigers third down quarterback, Noah Juni attempted a short pass that was picked off by Jerry Lowe. Lowe grabbed the interception in stride and was able to charge his way into the end zone for the Trojans second score of the night. Castanon's extra kick pushed the Trojan lead to 14-0.
With the start of the second quarter the Trojans were itching to score again and continued their ground attack with Lowe and Peyton "Bubba" Rutledge each getting carries. The Trojans were stood up in the red zone by the Tiger defense but still came away with three points after a successful field goal from Castanon.
The Tigers regained possession but not their composure as they committed another fumble that was hauled in by STC's Riley Davenport on the Grinnell 25 yard line. The Trojan offense quickly fired up again as Lowe thundered downfield to the seven-yard line. Doyle then capped off the short drive with his second quarterback keeper into the end zone. The Trojans were now firmly in control of the game with a 24-0 lead.
STC kept the pressure on as Justin Suchanek picked off the Tigers and brought the ball to the Grinnell 27 yard line. The interception was one of two on the night for Suchanek who led the team. The possession was short lived as Grinnell intercepted the ball on their own seven-yard line. The Tigers were met by the tough Trojan defense and got caught in the end zone as Joseph Rivera was called with intentional grounding giving the Trojans two more points after a safety call.
With the Trojans regaining possession, Lowe returned the kickoff to the Grinnell 38 yard line. Both Blocker and Rutledge made rushing gains for the Trojans but were stopped by the Tiger defense after attempting a fourth down conversion. Grinnell took over with just under two minutes in the half but fumbled again on their own five-yard line. The Trojans attempted to put one last touchdown on the board before halftime but would have to settle for a field goal. The Trojans were not done however, and forced Grinnell into a second safety after a deep kickoff from Castanon. The Trojans entered halftime up 31-0 with eight first downs, one turnover, and no penalties. While the Tigers had no penalties they struggled to control the ball as they committed four turnovers and converted just one first down.
Returning from halftime the Trojans came out fired up but showed some signs of fatigue. Jerry Lowe who rushed for 82 yards in the first half would not return for the second half due to a high ankle sprain which Hoskey stated was a mild injury.
The Trojans executed a clock management strategy very successfully in the third quarter and held the Tigers to just two minutes of possession time. The Trojans slowly but steadily moved the ball into Grinnell territory to the six-yard line. The Trojans would look to Castanon to score their final points of the game and extend their lead to 34-0. The senior kicker turned in a "statement game" on Friday as he was 3-3 on field goals and PATs, accounting for 12 of the Trojan's 34 points. The Trojan sideline took a collective gasp as Rutledge suffered a hard hit late in the third quarter. Slow to get up, Rutledge went to the sideline but thankfully returned at the top of the fourth quarter.
The Tigers started the fourth quarter on offense and were able to sneak in their lone scoring opportunity of the game off a pass by Juni to wide out Garrett Jay. The game ended with the Trojans taking a knee to run out the clock in the final seconds. With a celebration in order, the Trojans were presented with the Kriegel Trophy to which they proudly displayed to friends and family and closed out the night with the school song, "See the Team."
"In the beginning our guys came out ready to play. Our kids did a lot of things in the off-season that paid off and we had the advantage finally against Grinnell. I would have liked to have thrown the ball better but I know Grinnell has good defensive backs. We made a few mistakes but we caused a lot of them. I thought defensively we played quite well. I think we were intimidating them a little bit as far as coming off the ball maybe better than what they had seen. I don't think they are as deep as they had been. They hadn't practiced against someone like us," said Coach Hoskey.
The Trojans hope to keep their momentum going as they face Vinton-Shellsburg in the home opener on Friday September 5. The Vikings are coming off a 20-8 victory against Benton on Friday and will be looking for a bit of revenge after losing a close game (21-26) against the Trojans last season.