Blocking out all the noise around them of going winless in eight games of the nine-game season, Newton High’s Cardinals stayed within the moment Friday night.
It was Senior Night and the Cardinals sent their 16 seniors out with a victory, and gave the underclassmen a bounce for off-season work going into next year.
Newton trailed once, early, in the Class 3A District 6 game with Nevada’s Cubs. The Cardinals rolled over the Cubs with its running game all night as Newton amassed 404 yards on the ground in a 42-19 victory.
Senior running backs Joseph Banfield and Dalton Nevels made the most of the Cardinal offensive line blocking. Banfield, who became Newton’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2011, piled up 223 yards on 31 carries, scoring three touchdowns. Nevels had 114 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
Banfield finished his senior season with 1,115 yards on 205 carries and had 14 touchdowns. He was the top rusher in District 6 and second in scoring with 94 points. The last Newton player to rush for more than 1,000 yards was Zach Roskilly in 2011. Roskilly had 1,099 yards on 175 carries.
“We stuck together as a team. We’re family. We’re brothers,” Nevels said following the game. Nevels ended his senior season with 669 yards on 101 carries and seven touchdowns.
Nevels and senior center Jacob Smith were emotional after the game, and the tears were streaming down their faces as they tried to talk about the game and season.
When asked what it meant to get the victory following a tough season, Nevels couldn’t answer. Smith stepped in.
“It meant a lot. As coach said in the paper, we had some tough stuff happen, and we weren’t supposed to be where we are now,” Smith said. “We were looking to be in the playoffs, and we stayed together through all of it. Going 1-8 is better than 0-9, and I’d rather do it with this team than anybody else.”
Coming into the game, the Cardinals were 0-8 and the Nevada Cubs were 2-6, but no district win. The Cardinals controlled the contest from the opening kickoff, even when the Cubs held a 7-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
“Our seniors wanted to go out the right way, and they were able to do that,” Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright said. “Last year at this very time, we were celebrating taking second in the district, and getting ready for the playoffs, but I’m not sure that felt any better than seeing these seniors get to go out with a win.”
Nevels had a walk-in 4-yard touchdown run to open the scoring, but Josh Gulling’s kick was off the mark. Nevada answered with swing pass play from Macade Matuska to Brendan Sellberg that covered 68 yards for a touchdown.
Newton responded with an 11-play drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Banfield, who also ran in the two-point conversion. Banfield scored from 1 yard out at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter to put Newton up 21-7.
Senior Bryce Tish intercepted a Cub pass to set up Newton’s next score, which was a 14-yard pass to Tish from Garrett Sturtz. Leading 28-7, Newton’s defense gave up a 13-yard touchdown run by Sellberg.
Just before halftime, Banfield scored his third touchdown of the game and with Gulling’s kick, the Cardinals went into the break up 35-13.
After a scoreless third quarter, Nevels bulled over the goal line from 5 yards out with 10:58 left in the game. Nevada scored on a hook-and-lateral pass play five minutes later, but Newton senior Jwan Roush intercepted a two-point conversion pass to leave it 42-19.
“We were close to be at full strength as a team tonight. Joseph hobbled around out there but ran tough. Dalton was Dalton — blocking hard and running hard. He got us a key touchdown by putting his shoulder down and driving into the end zone,” Ergenbright said.
Senior linebacker Duncan Lee made five solo tackles and two assisted tackles. Lee, who leads the district in solo tackles with 61, recorded two quarterback sacks against Nevada. Lee has 77 total tackles for the season and 10 tackles for loss.
Sophomore linebacker Jace Lukefahr recorded four solo stops and one assisted tackle while senior linebacker Austin James had three solo tackles. Senior Cole Peters had two solos and two assisted tackles as did junior Reese Rosenquist. Nevels had a quarterback sack. Tish had the lone takeaway in the game with his interception.
“Duncan is a warrior out there — throwing blocks and making tackles. Bryce Tish has been an important part of our team on defense for three years. All of our seniors led by example this season as we worked through the injuries and the losses. They never gave up,” Ergenbright said.
Sturtz completed 2-of-3 passes in the game for the Cardinals. Tish caught one for 14 yards and Nevels had one for one yard. Sturtz punted once for 38 yards.
“I just told them all to remember tonight. This will take some of the sting out of the tough season,” Ergenbright said. “Hopefully, the adversity they fought through will teach them a little bit about what it takes to be good adults, and that’s what I want them to take with them.”
Newton — Nevels 4 yd run (kick failed)
Nevada — Sellberg 68 yd pass from Matuska (Fevold kick)
Newton — Banfield 5 yd run (Banfield run)
Newton — Banfield 1 yd run (Gulling kick)
Newton — Tish 14 yd pass from Sturtz (Gulling kick)
Nevada — 13 yd run (kick blocked)
Newton — Banfield 1 yd run (Gulling kick)
Newton — Nevels 5 yd run (Gulling kick)
Nevada — Sellberg 35 yd pass from Matuska (pass failed)
23 First Downs 12
67-404 Rushes-Yds 22-30
15 Passing Yds 133
419 Total Offense 163
2-3-1 Passing 7-15-1
2/0 Fumbles/lost 1/0
13-13 Penalties/Yds 10-79
1-38 Punts/Avg 3-38
Rushing: Newton-Banfield 31-223, Nevels 18-114, Sturtz 10-49, Rosenquist 3-12, Lee 1-6. Nevada-Strottman 9-49, Sellberg 5-29, Sharp 2-3, Fevold 1-(-15), Matuska 4-(-25).
Passing: Newton-Sturtz 2-3-15-0. Nevada-Matuska 7-15-133-1.
Receiving: Newton-Tish 1-14, Nevels 1-1. Nevada-Sellberg 4-109, Dilkerson 2-19, Heintz 1-5.
Punting: Newton-Sturtz 1-38 (38 yd avg.). Nevada-Sharp 3-115 (38 yd avg.)
Tackles (solo/assisted): Lee 5/2; Lukefahr 4/1; James 3/0; Peters 2/2; Rosenquist 2/2; Kite 2/1: Hansen 2/0; Nevels 2/0; Busch 1/0; McKinney 1/0; Miller 1/0; Miravallis 1/0; Jwan Roush 1/0; Tish 1/0; Busch 1/0: Constant 0/2.
Quarterback sacks: Lee 2; Nevels 1.
Fumbles (forced/recovered): none.
Interceptions: Tish 1.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org