Taking pictures of a high school football scoreboard is nothing new, but the scene occurred after only one quarter at Andale on a night Indians fans wanted to remember.
Two days after Andale head coach Gary O’Hair lost his father, the Indians honored their coach with an inspired performance on both sides of the ball, scoring five times in the first quarter for a 36-0 lead on their way to a 65-0 blowout win over visiting Wellington.
“We really wanted to come out strong for Coach,” starting tailback Hunter Knoblauch said. “He’s been leaving this week and driving back a lot, and it meant a lot to us that we could come out and play like we did tonight.”
Many of the Andale players scribbled “B.O.” on their helmets in honor of their coach’s late father, Bill O’Hair. The coach stood on the field after the game contemplating a week of travel, emotions and, finally, a near flawless performance to keep his team undefeated at 6-0.
“It’s been an emotional week for me,” he said. “This was good to get my mind off things and come out here and see these guys have fun. They had fun tonight, and they should. They came out and played hard and played well.”
Knoblauch did most of his damage in the first half. He spent his time running around the Wellington defense after beating tacklers to the sideline before turning up field. His lone carry in the second half – a 22-yard run on Andale’s first play of the third quarter – capped his night of 172 yards and 13 carries.
The junior scored on a 57-yard run late in the second quarter. He also returned a punt 84 yards for Andale’s longest touchdown of the night to highlight a 50-0 halftime lead.
With Hunter and his brother, Bo, leading the way, Andale scored six of its nine touchdowns on the ground and tallied 515 rushing yards on 53 carries.
“Great backs. Great blocking. They get to that edge and it’s gone,” Wellington coach Tyler Ryan said. “The Knoblauch kid is a great running back. He’s got great guys in front, and they’re just a dangerous team and an outstanding football team right now. We’ve got a ways to go to compete with those guys.”
Wellington (4-2) entered the game with just one loss but couldn’t keep up with Andale’s quick start. The Indians needed just three plays to score on the game’s opening drive, then recovered an unplanned onside kick that bounced off the side of the kicker’s foot, traveled 12 yards and was recovered by the home team in front of its sideline. Five plays later Andale scored another touchdown.
Three dropped passes from Wellington’s receivers made for a quick three-and-out on their first possession, and Andale again needed just three plays to find the end zone. The Indians were up 22-0 by the time Wellington gained its first yard on a short pass from quarterback Trevor Nance to Connor Phelps five and a half minutes into the first quarter.
Wellington’s receivers dropped multiple passes throughout the night. Nance completed 7 of 28 pass attempts, and starting wideout Collin Reichenberger was held to just 26 yards on two catches.
“We made the Reichenberger kid work so hard,” O’Hair said. “We were jamming that line of scrimmage and trying to take that away from him as best we could.”
Wellington running back Austin Dunn was held to 38 yards on 11 carries. The closest the Crusaders got to the end zone was the 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter. But two incompletions and a pair of sacks preserved the shutout.
Junior Hank Eck scored twice for Andale and finished with 92 yards on six carries. Quarterback Jared Smarsh completed 4 of 6 passes, two for touchdowns, on a night when seven different Indians found the end zone.
A — Bo Knoblauch 52 run (Layton Johnson kick), 10:45
A — Hank Eck 6 run (Johnson kick), 9:27
A — Jeffrey Ast 12 pass from Jared Smarsh (Eck 3 pass from Smarsh), 8:02
A — Eck 38 run (Johnson kick), 2:05
A — Hunter Knoblauch 84 punt return (Johnson kick), 0:54
A — Jason Hermreck 19 pass from Smarsh (Johnson kick), 5:31
A — H. Knoblauch 57 run (Johnson kick), 4:07
A — Tyler Mies 5 run (Johnson kick), 7:59
A — Matthew Maus 1 run (Maus 3 run), 0:20
Rushing – Wellington, Austin Dunn 18-84, Connor Phelps 3-(-2), Trevor Nance 5-(-16). Andale, Hank Eck 6-92-2, Hunter Knoblauch 13-172-1, Bo Knoblauch 3-66-1, Alec Hein 3-23, Tyler Meis 4-18-1, Clayton Winter 1-17, Jared Smarsh 4-18, Matthew Maus 10-49-1, Hayden Bugner 4-44, Luke Walstad 2-7, Lane Macari 2-7, Jarrod Jansen 1-2.
Passing – Wellington, Trevor Nance 7-28 87. Andale, Jared Smarsh 4-6-2, 37.
Receiving – Wellington, Connor Phelps 4-37, Austin Dunn 1-24, Colin Reichenberger 2-26. Andale, Hank Eck 1-3, Jason Hermreck 2-22-1, Jeffery Ast 1-12-1.