AUDUBON – Kaiden Smith did it all Friday night for Audubon in their Iowa eight-man opening-round contest against Harris-Lake Park.
The 6’1”, 160-pound senior halfback passed, ran and threw for a total 201 yards and five touchdowns as he helped key the Wheelers’ 48-20 victory over the Wolves at Chis Jones Field, setting up their part of the rematch of two of District 8’s top-three teams.
CAM throttled Lamoni 64-28 in the other first-round game in Audubon’s quadrant.
“We knew we were going to have to run the ball and block and make our assignments good,” said Smith. “We just knew we had to play Wheeler football and go hard.”
It was Smith that broke open a tight contest, the Wheelers leading 14-6 late in the first quarter.
The Wolves appeared to have a 40-yard touchdown reception by Isaac Ihnen with 30 seconds late in the first quarter, when a offensive holding penalty negated what could have been, with a two-point conversion, a game-tying score.
The Wolves forced to punt, the Wheelers needed just two plays and 13 seconds into the second quarter for Smith to punch in a 53-yard reception, his third score of the night.
The Wheelers had control, Smith adding a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Jensen, a 4-yard run to go with first-quarter touchdown runs of 58 and 4 yards, the latter a double reverse.
“We saw they weren’t looking at me after I tossed the ball back, so we knew if they put me out on a route and have them throw the ball back to me no one would be near me,” said Smith of the play. “We just tried to run it and we ran it.”
Smith’s pass play came after the Wolves gambled on a fourth-and-short situation at their own 20 and lost.
“They were really crashing down on the option we were running and we talked about it on the sideline,” he said. “We knew if we put Jackson on the 9-route he’d be open. So I got the ball and knew he was down there and just threw the ball.”
Quarterback Skyler Schultes, himself ending with 194 total yards, is grateful to have a guy like Smith on his team.
“He’s great to have in the backfield,” he said. “He’s reliable and you can just give him the football if you have to, he brings another dynamic threat to our offense. He’s one that can make plays.
“Our line played really well tonight. They had some big guys up front that were really playing well and we couldn’t do it without them.”
Of course, Schultes had other weapons to work with, with Gavin Smith scoring on a 4-yard run and Ethan Klocke intercepting a Brody Sohn pass for a 57-yard touchdown pick-6.
Wheelers coach Sean Birks was really happy with how his team came out Friday night against the dangerous threat Sohn presented. He ended the night with 205 yards and three touchdowns, two to Ihnen.
“I thought the guys executed really well, with a couple of trick plays I thought our defense did a nice job making plays,” he said. “We came up with a few turnovers, could have been a few more, and we gave up a few more yards than we wanted but we made stops when we needed to.”
Birks and his team said they are ready for Friday’s rematch, 7 p.m. at Chis Jones Field.
Last time, an Iowa eight-man District 8 championship was on the line. Audubon toppled CAM in that game two weeks ago, 19-16.
This time, a trip to the playoff semifinals at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls is on the line.
“We’ve just got to stick to our game plan and improve on it from the first time,” said Schultes. “We played well defensively but allowed some points early. We need to get our offense going, scoring only 19 points, that didn’t help us a lot. If we improve on that we should be alright.”