High school football season got underway last week as the Thayer Central Titans collected a win over Johnson County Central, 45-13. The Titans scored five times in the first half to control the game and managed to keep the Thunderbirds away from the end posts until the third period.
“I am very pleased with our overall effort in the first game,” said third-year coach Josh Lanek. “You never know what to expect in the first one, but our kids came out and executed the game plan very well on both sides of the football.”
The game was played at the regular football field at the Hebron Sports Complex. The new field located at the TCCS campus will be dedicated Oct. 5 in the match against Superior.
In the contest against JCC, returning senior receiver Greg Dightman started the scoring frenzy on a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first minutes of the game. The return is the longest on record for Thayer Central and sets a new standard for the school.
Jacob Kniep followed with a 10-yard fumble return while Caleb Goedeken provided the PAT to close the period 13-0. Goedeken was good for three of seven PATs on the night.
“Johnson County Central has a very ball-control offense that we needed to tackle well to stop,” Coach Lanek said. “Outside the first drive of the game and the last drive of the game, we shut down their rushing attack most of the night.”
Brian Loontjer led that effort with five solo tackles and four assists while Kniep provided six assists.
“Offensively, we didn’t have the ball very much, but when we did we were very explosive with it averaging 11-yards per play,” Coach Lanek added. “That’s a fantastic number.” Thayer Central had 274 total yards in 24 rushes; returning senior Tyler Van Cleef turned in 76 yards on five rushes.
Touchdowns came in the second period by way of Trenton Tietjen on 17-yard and six-yard keepers, Dalton Kenning on a 40-yard run, and Dightman on a 35-yard reception from Tietjen’s only completion in four attempts on the night.
Tietjen again scored on a one-yard keeper in the third period to end the Titans’ scoring. JCC scored one touchdown in both the third and fourth periods.
The team travels to Blue Hill this Friday. “Blue Hill will be a great litmus test for us to see where we are as a team,” Coach Lanek commented. “We need to have a great week of practice and shore up a few areas that we need to improve on.”
Coach Lanek returns to the Titan grid for his third year and brings back ten starters for his core experience including Greg Dightman, Caleb Goedeken, Cole Harris, Clayton Hintz, Jacob Kniep, Brian Loontjer, Jared Marsh Cody Mumm, Trenton Tietjen and Tyler Van Cleef.
The Lady Titans open their season this Thursday, Aug. 30 at home as they host Tri County. The Freshman game begins at 5 p.m. with the Junior Varsity and Varsity following.
Veteran coach Kurk Wiedel returns five starters including Bridgette Baden, Kelsey Long, Tarryn Tietjen, Ashley Peterson, and Allison Tietjen. The core group went 18-8 last year under Coach Wiedel’s tutelage. The senior Baden will lead the squad as the top hitter. She acquired 349 kills in 2011 and was named to the second-team all-state team.
Coach Andy Long will lead a full squad of runners into the 2012 season as they open competition at the Superior Invitational this Thursday, Aug. 30.
Junior Bailey Linton, who qualified for state last year, also returns to lead a full roster of women onto the field. Thayer Central has not seen a full squad of girls in several years.
For the boys, returning members include Russ Heitmann, Adam Hellbusch, Heath Fink and Cameron Asche.
While all its meets, except one, are on the road, the squad will host its annual invitational Sept. 20 at the Hebron Country Club.