RANDOLPH — The Hartington-Newcastle Wildcats used a combination of youth and experience to dominate Randolph here Friday.
Freshman quarterback Riley Sudbeck led the Wildcat aerial attack, connecting on a sizzling 13-16 passes for 197 yards in his first-ever varsity action.
Senior Kobe Heitman led the ground attack, churning out an impressive 262 yards on just 22 carries. He also collected three touchdowns on the ground and three through the air to finish with six total scores.
In all, the Cats rolled up 510 total yards in putting together the 66-36 win over Randolph.
The Wildcat offensive line, which saw action from Carson Sudbeck, John Lauer, Mason Buschkamp, Daniel Steffen, Parker Hopping, Jake Peitz and Shay Dickes, opened up the holes for Heitman, and made sure Sudbeck had plenty of time to pass.
“I thought they all did a great job as we rotated them through. They really moved the line of scrim
The Wildcats found paydirt later in the first quartermage and made making play calls a lot easier,” Coach Corey Uldrich said.
Uldrich said it always takes awhile for the players to get comfortable when a new season starts — especially the young players. He was pleasantly surprised at how his freshman quarterback handled the situation.
“I thought Riley played very composed, beyond his years. I know he was nervous early, but he settled in with a long TD pass on his first attempt,” he said. “Any time you start a freshman QB, it makes you nervous. However, we had a lot of faith in him.”
The Wildcats flexed their muscles right from the start, putting the first points of the game on the board before everyone had even taken their seats.
Riley Sudbeck found Jake Peitz open and connected with him on a 59-yard touchdown strike with just over 11 minutes left in the first frame. Kobe Heitman then ran the 2-point conversion in to give the visitors an early 8-0 lead. when Sudbeck connected with Heitman on a 5-yard TD strike with just 2:20 left in the opening frame. Sudbeck found John Lauer in the endzone for the conversion play, making it 16-0.
The Cats closed out the first frame on the move, getting the ball into the red zone and scoring on the first play of the second frame when Sudbeck passed to Peitz from two yards out. Aiden Gratzfeld split the uprights on his first extra point kick of the season to make it 23-0.
“Whenever you play a first game, it’s exciting to see the kids have the opportunity to go out and show everyone what we’ve been doing for three weeks in practice,” Uldrich said. “While we were far from perfect, I thought we did a number of things well. Our offensive linemen, ends and receivers did a great job of blocking at the point of attack and down field, which made running the ball effective and efficient. When we could run the ball, it made the play action passing game very dangerous.”
The Cards finally got something going after that, putting together a three-and-a-half minute drive that ended when Justin Haselhorst barrelled into the endzone from five yards out. The 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete, though, and Randolph trailed 23-6 with 8:44 left in the first half.
“We tried several different formations and mixed and matched personnel to find a successful combination,” Randolph head coach Mark Lech said. “We were able to move the ball after a slow start and put some points on the board with some players emerging and making some plays.”
Randolph scored when Justin Haselhorst completed a 44-yard pass to Collyn Beal. Haselhorst then blasted in for the 2-point conversion with 2:20 left in the first half, making the score 38-14.
The Cats quick strike offense wasn’t done, though. HNS again used some big plays to set up a 7-yard TD pass from Sudbeck to Heitman. The 2-point conversion pass from Sudbeck to Peitz made it 46-14 at the halftime break.
The Cards put together a solid drive to open the second half, scoring with 8:54 left when Haselhorst hit Collyn Beal on a 27-yard strike for the touchdown. Haselhorst then carried the ball in himself on the two-point conversion run to make it 46-22.
The defense also made things difficult for Randolph, keeping everything on the perimeter.
“We got caught on a couple of screen plays that resulted in big plays, and a few long balls were completed even with good coverage on the receivers,” Uldrich said. “I think people will look at the 36 points we gave up as a sign of trouble, but I’m very confident that we can make some adjustments and corrections that will help us improve each week.
The defense had a huge play late in the game when Parker Hopping intercepted a screen pass and nearly returned it for a touchdown.
“I thought that was the play of the game and certainly energized our kids for a strong finish,” Uldrich said.
The Cardinals have to learn from their mistakes Randolph Coach Mark Lech said.
“Defensively, we gave up way too many big plays,” Lech said. “Hartington ran a lot of misdirection and used that action to throw to open receivers.”
The Wildcats will have their home opener Friday night at Russ Hochstein Field when they host Coach Uldrich’s former team, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family. The game is the second contest of the day at the Hartington Community Complex. Cedar Catholic hosts Battle Creek in an afternoon game here.
HNS 16 30 8 12—66
RHS 0 14 14 8 —36
Passing Yards 186 199
Rushing Yards 314 142
First Downs 20 16
Turnovers 2 1
Penalties - Yds 5 - 35 5 - 30
PASSING Randolph - Tyson Junck, 5-9- 114; Justin Haselhorst, 5-9-80; Tristan Mosel, 2-4-5. Hartington-Newcastle - HNS - Riley Sudbeck, 13-16-197.
RUSHING Randolph - Justin Haselhorst, 33-124; Cadein Villwok, 6-18; Tyson Junck, 1-7; Tristan Mosel, 2-0; Carter Olson, 1- - 7. Hartington-Newcastle - Kobe Heitman, 22- 262; Lane Heimes, 4-27; Carson Sudbeck, 3-20; Riley Sudbeck, 8-4.
RECEIVING HNS - Jake Peitz, 6-144; Kobe Heitman, 4-37; Shay Dickes, 1-11; Lane Heimes, 1-3; John Lauer, 1-2.
TACKLES HNS - Carson Sudbeck, 14; John Lauer, 11; Shay Dickes, 11; Jude Krie, 9; Aiden Gratzfeld, 8; Kobe Heitman, 7; Lane Heims, 6; Jake Peitz, 5; Mason Buschkamp, 3; Turner Dendinger, 3; Mayson McIntosh, 3; Reece Morten, 1; Parker Hopping, 1; Kamden Hoesing, 1. Randolph - Collyn Beal, 12; Justin Haselhorst, 9; Cadein Villwok, 9.
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