COLFAX — Injuries — they happen in all sports and are an inevitable result of great effort, but it has been the injuries more than anything that have held back Colfax-Mingo from piling up wins this season.
C-M fell 41-6 at home to Des Moines Christian on Friday night, and although Tigerhawk coach Jeff Lietz is not looking to make any excuses for his team, he knows that at the moment, they are very limited offensively.
“I hate to put a number on it, but I think we were missing about 71 percent of our offensive production,” Lietz said. “We had Juan (Gonzales) at quarterback, and he never really got comfortable back there. We tried to do some things with our running game, but we were just not a threat to pass at all.”
C-M quarterback Jared Myers will be out the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and the team was also missing one of its leading receivers in sophomore Blake Summy, who should return this week against Pella Christian.
With the absence of a dual threat offense, the Tigerhawk defense stepped up early. Down 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Colin Lourens came free on a blitz and forced a bad throw out into the flat. James Stoecker took advantage, picking the ball off and returning it 59 yards for the only Tigerhawk score of the game.
“I think we came out more intense and more prepared on defense than we have all season,” Lietz said. “I know you look at the score and you see that we gave up 41 points, and it doesn’t look like the defense did a great job, but when we can’t really move the ball, it’s tough on them. I was very pleased with their effort.”
Several players stepped up their defensive efforts for the Tigerhawks. Leading tackler on the season Jake Lietz set a season-high with 22 tackles, 16 of them solo. Also, sophomore Jake Buehrer had 15 stops for C-M, also a season-high.
A lack of depth ultimately wore down the Tigerhawk defenders over the course of the game. Des Moines Christian continued to pound the ball at the Tigerhawks on the ground, forcing a physical contest that chipped away at an already hampered squad.
The Tigerhawks trailed just 21-6 at halftime, but the Lions came out with a plan to chip away at C-M. When the Tigerhawks were forced to throw the ball downfield, that’s when the game was blown open. DMC forced three second-half interceptions, converting touchdowns on two of them and walked out victorious.
Gonzales and Jake Lietz led the team on the ground with 33 and 27 yards rushing, respectively. Clayton Brown had the longest play of the day, a 19-yard reception.
Jake Lietz and Buehrer led the team in tackles, followed by Lourens with eight. Chris Warner had seven stops for C-M. Marchis Tomlonivic, Brown, Kyle Breen and Gonzales each had six tackles. Gave Simpson had five.
One silver lining in all of this for the Tigerhawks is the fact that so many young players have gotten to play. On a team already built around sophomores and juniors, even more have gotten game experience due to injuries, and although Jeff Lietz is still focused on closing the year with wins, he knows the benefit of getting young players game experience.
“I think coming into this game we had one or two seniors on offense and maybe three on defense,” he said. “It’s a challenge for the young guys, but it gives them a chance to see our mentality that guys have to step up when others are hurt. I like the attitude I see out of them, and it builds confidence and experience. This will certainly help us for the future.”