A-P football falls to Western Christian

Aplington-Parkersburg accepts their state participant trophy after Friday's loss in Parkersburg to Western Christian. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder
Eclipse News-Review

PARKERSBURG – Saying goodbye to Aplington-Parkersburg’s senior football class was going to be hard for Alex Pollock no matter when the Falcon season ended.

But that farewell came sooner than the A-P head coach hoped for as the team gathered for one final huddle on Ed Thomas Field on Friday night after a 49-27 loss to Western Christian.

“It’s not just this season, but their whole careers, the ups and downs that they’ve been a part of,” Pollock said. “They’ve been a part of some of the toughest times in A-P history. And to get it back to where it is now, when a lot of kids would’ve said, forget it - they did everything they could to get our program back on the right track. And I’m forever grateful to them.”

A-P’s season ends at 8-2 against an unranked Western Christian team that had played a brutal schedule on the west side of the state and brought that tested mettle to the Falcons’ doorstep.

Special team miscues put A-P in an early 14-0 hole, but touchdowns for Kaden Huttinger and Gavin Thomas got the Falcons to within 21-14 at halftime.

Western Christian scored on a couple of bruising, slippery drives where they evaded A-P tacklers to jump up to a 35-14 lead, and the Falcons weren’t within 20 points the rest of the way. A goal-line drive for the Falcons that followed ended in a turnover on downs. And when A-P got the ball back, an interception return for a touchdown put the Wolfpack up 42-14 one minute into the fourth quarter.

“We were right there. We had our opportunities, our chances to make big plays,” Pollock said. “And it didn’t happen tonight - they were the ones that made big plays when it counted, and that’s why they’re moving on.”

The Wolfpack averaged 6.2 yards per carry on Friday, including 137 yards on 22 totes and three scores for leading rusher Tyler Mantel.

“We could only take away one thing and we thought we would limit the pass game,” Pollock said. “And we had pressure on their quarterback all night. But we couldn’t bring him down. And I was impressed with their physicality - that’s the one thing that I don’t think translated to me on film was their physicality. That was impressive.”

The Falcons were put on their heels early when a low snap on a punt attempt forced the punter to kneel to collect the ball, giving the Wolfpack short field at the A-P 24. Western Christian immediately capitalized on a Kaden VanRegenmorter throw to Karsten Moret.

The team traded successful punts, but on A-P’s third punt attempt of the night, Lucas Kooima blocked the punt attempt, as the ball rolled toward the end zone and eventually ended up in Derek Heynen’s hands for a score and a 14-0 Wolfpack lead eight minutes into the game.

Western Christian tried to twist the knife with an onside kick but was flagged on the recovery, resulting in A-P ball deep in Wolfpack territory. The Falcons were able to get on the board on a fourth-and-goal fade to the corner of the end zone for a leaping Kaden Huttinger, halving the Wolfpack lead before the end of the first quarter.

The Falcons answered another Western Christian score two minutes before halftime on a Gavin Thomas 1-yard sneak that completed a drive featuring another big catch from Huttinger and a solid 18-yard run for senior back Aidan Junker.

A-P appeared to recover the ensuing kickoff that was fumbled by Western Christian, but an early whistle was eventually settled between the officials by ordering a re-kick, which the Wolfpack fielded cleanly to close out the half.

Junker punched in two second-half scores and finished with 22 carries for 115 yards. Kael Schoneman added eight carries for 88 yards.

“We ran the ball decent,” Pollock said. “We just couldn’t get the perimeter run game going until late, and that made us one-dimensional - we had some really good plays in the pass game, but just not consistent enough to be successful.”

Thomas completed 8-of-18 passes with 119 yards, one touchdown to Huttinger and the interception. Huttinger made three catches for 52 yards to lead the receiving group.

Defensively, Nick Neuroth made eight total tackles, four solo. Jack Eddy and Junker had six stops each.

Seniors on this year’s team included Martez Wiggley, Kaden Huttinger, Luke Shepard, Jack Eddy, Will Steege, Adam Schipper, Blayne Luhring, Aidan Junker, Carson Troyna, Joe Johnson, Andrew Ogle, Connor Kellum, Brady Peters, Dakota Dally.

“They’ve laid the group blueprint for success here,” Pollock said. “It’s not a 3-month thing, it’s a 12-month deal. We had to kick them out of the weight room because they lived in there, and they did everything they could to get our program back to where it’s at. I wish it didn’t end this way. But I’m hoping that they’re able to really tell our kids how they did it, so we can keep this thing going, where it goes from being a two-year deal to a four-year deal, and then who knows what can happen with a consistent effort like that?

I’m not ready for it to end.”


A-P stats

Rushing–Aidan Junker 22-115, 2 TD; Kael Schoneman 8-88; Ty Luhring 1-11; Gavin Thomas 4-10, TD; Martez Wiggley 1-4; Adam Schipper 4-4; Kael Stotler 1-1; Team 2-(-12).

Passing–Thomas 8-18-1, 119 yards, TD.

Receiving–Kaden Huttinger 3-52, TD; Wiggley 1-31; Junker 1-20; Jack Eddy 2-14; Nick Neuroth 1-2.

Tackles (solo-total)–Nick Neuroth 4-8; Jack Eddy 2-6; Aidan Junker 2-6; Martez Wiggley 2-3; Kaden Huttinger 2-3; Kael Schoneman 2-2.5; Adam Schipper 1-2; Will Hodges 0-1.5; Joe Johnson 1-1.5; Andrew Ogle 0-1.5; Mason Ridder 1-1.5; Ty Luhring 1-1; Kael Stotler 0-1; Carson Troyna 0-1; Dakota Dally 1-1; Nile Petersen 0-0.5. TFL–Wiggley 1, Eddy, Ogle 0.5.


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