HLV gains upper hand on Royals

COLO – The Royals weren’t expecting to make a complete shift in offensive scheme mid-game, but the Colo-NESCO football team did what it had to do to get itself back into the contest.

After punting and turning the ball over on downs on its first two possessions of Friday night’s 8-Man District 5 showdown with HLV of Victor, the Royals found themselves down 14-0 in the first quarter. A switch from the I-formation offense to a spread/wildcat formation got the football into the hands of tailback Garret Tiarks a little quicker.

The switch worked. Colo-NESCO even took a 32-27 lead in the third quarter, but HLV was just too powerful on offense and came away with the 49-38 victory.

“They’re a good team,” said Royal coach Josh Nessa. “We knew they would be.

“When it comes down to it, we thought we put our best player in the position he could do the best.”

After two series of Philip Bower playing quarterback and Tiarks in the backfield, the senior running back took the snaps the rest of the way for the Royals. Tiarks ended the night with a balanced number of yards gained, running for 163 yards on 26 rushes, and completing 8-of-20 passes for 162 yards, amassing 325 all-purpose yards. Tiarks ran for two touchdowns, and threw for another three scores. While it wasn’t in the game plan to make the offensive switch, Colo-NESCO (3-4, 3-2) has run the offense earlier this year, and it’s not something new to the Royals.

“We had to try to some different things without being able to run ‘I’ on them,” Nessa said. “We had to spread it out a little bit. Try to get guys out of the box. It definitely worked to get our playmakers in space. It was too little, too late.”

Bower was still utilized after being moved out of quarterback. The junior hauled in a pair of passes for 54 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch from Tiarks in the third quarter to get the Royals within a score. With the Warriors (6-2, 5-0) leading 21-8 in the second, Tiarks took a snap and ran to his right. He then tossed the ball to Bower, who reserved direction of field and launched the ball downfield to a wide open Parker Eley, who went untouched 25 yards into the end zone.

Tiarks’ two other touchdown passes went to Mason Lytle for a 9-yard score just before halftime, and Wayne Beard for 40 yards late in the fourth quarter when the Royals were trying to climb their way back into the game.

“We thought he’d be able to attack with his feet and his arm,” Nessa said. “He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but we run more of a short pass game, so we thought he’d be good enough.”

Friday night’s shootout was a stark contrast from the game HLV and Colo-NESCO played a year ago in Victor which ended in a Warrior 12-3 win. Nessa expected much of the same in this year’s game.

Warrior quarterback Jacob Coats threw a pair of scores, and ran for another, counting for 145 total yards. Wyatt Kaplan ran the ball 33 times for 169 yards, with touchdown runs of 8 and 4 yards. Brandon Schafbuch complemented the HLV ground attack, running for 86 yards on 14 carries and a pair of touchdown runs of 6 and 2 yards.

“They looked really tough on film,” Nessa said. “They did a few things we might not of been expecting. They just do what they do, and they’re really good at it.

“Two totally different games.”

Colo-NESCO travels to Moravia in Week 8 before closing out the regular season at home against Tri-County.