Orioles pound way past Tipton to quarterfinal

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Running room wasn't abundant for the Orioles' Zach Wolski (41), but he managed to find holes and earn every yard in a 176-yard rushing performance as third-ranked Concordia knocked off the No. 2 Tipton Cardinals 28-14 Monday.

In 2006 and 2007, John Cox's Concordia Orioles football team ran into Tipton and lost district championship games.

That was then. This is now.

Monday night, the Orioles used a punishing running game, led by Zach Wolski, to score four touchdowns and defeat Tipton 28-14 at a packed house at Concordia High School's Dorth Field.

"People had been talking about this possible matchup for weeks," CHS head coach John Cox said. "I'm glad we played well enough to win. It's over and now we need to move on."

The Orioles scored the first two times they had the football. Tipton took advantage of a short field to slice the lead in half, but Concordia scored the game's next two touchdowns to put away the game. Tipton's last touchdown came with just over two minutes left.

The Orioles' defense set the tone early on that they were not going to let Tipton run the ball with any consistency, stuffing the first two ground attempts, forcing Riley Brant, who was only averaging about 35 yards passing per game, to throw.

On third and long, Brant's pass was intercepted by Alic Frerking and returned 15 yards to midfield. Plus, the Cardinals were hit with a 15-yard facemask penalty.

The Cardinals, in turn, stuffed the first two running attempts for CHS, but Kent Schuette scrambled for 12 yards on third and 13. Cox gambled on fourth down, Luke Kapala crashing across the line for 3 yards.

On the next play, Collin Werths scampered 24 yards to the end zone on a pitch around left end. Carter Brown added the extra-point kick for a 7-0 lead just over 3 1/2 minutes deep into the game.

Two more runs netted only two yards and an incomplete pass forced Tipton to punt.

The Orioles converted two third-and-shorts, then Zach Wolski, the fourth man in the four-headed monster of a backfield for CHS most of the season, took the handoff from Schuette on a fullback trap, scooted through a crease in the line of scrimmage and raced 52 yards to paydirt. Brown's successful kick made it 14-0 with 4:07 left in the first quarter.

"We knew getting off to a fast start was going to be a key, but we knew they weren't going to give up," Cox said.

Another three-and-out and a punt for Tipton and the Orioles had a chance to blow open the game. But a holding call wiped out a third-down pass from Schuette to Brown that would have earned a first down and the Orioles had to punt.

"We looked at that as a missed opportunity," Cox said. "But things like that are going to happen from time to time when you're playing a good team."

Cale Brunkhorst's boot only went 13 yards, setting up Tipton on a short field.

Rushing the ball was Tipton's strong suit, but Dallas Peoples (29) was stopped by the Orioles' defense, led by Tyler Tolias (33) and Luke Kapala (42), on this play.

It looked as though the Orioles were going to stop Tipton again as two running plays netted no yards, but Brant was able to complete an 11-yard pass to Zac Combs to extend the drive. Then Brant connected with Cameron Backes for 27 yards, Backes making a leaping catch at the CHS 2.

Two plays later, Brant sneaked across the goal line, and Kaleb Larue's boot chopped the CHS lead in half with 10:24 to go in the first half.

The two teams traded three-and-outs, then the Orioles got back their two-score lead, driving 61 yards in 12 plays. Along the way, Wolski converted a fourth and 2 with a 3-yard plunge, then the Orioles never got to third down.

Schuette and Wolski had 12-yard runs and Schuette completed a pass for 12 yards to Wolski for the biggest plays, with Kapala taking a pitch left and outrunning the Cardinals to the corner of the end zone for a 20-7 lead with 1:30 to go in the half.

The Orioles took control of the game up front in the third quarter, marching 74 yards in 16 time-consuming running plays and building their lead to 28-7.

Along the way, they converted two fourth downs, Wolski gaining 2 yards on a fourth and 1 from the 45 and Wolski shooting through a hole for 8 yards on fourth and 1 from the THS 11.

Three plays later, Kapala swept left again for another 1-yard touchdown. Schuette connected with Brunkhorst for the two-point conversion with 2:34 to go in the third quarter.

"I've never been a part of anything like that," Cox said. "I told them at halftime, 'We're going to come out and run the veer and give the ball to Zach all the way down the field,' and they believed we could do it."

Wolski carried the ball nine times for 63 yards on the possession.

Tipton managed a first down on its next drive, but Frerking recovered a fumble.

The Cardinals drove to the CHS 16 the next time they had the ball, but a penalty backed them up to the 30, and Brant had his pass toward the end zone picked off by Kapala.

Tipton started its next possession at the CHS 33, but a low snap on first down, an incomplete pass and a sack of 10 yards by Brown pushed them back to the 48, forcing a punt.

With less than 4 minutes left, the Orioles turned over the ball when Schuette had his pass over the middle picked off by Backes, which led to Tipton's final score, a 37-yard bomb from Brant to Zac Combs.

But CHS recovered the onside kick and ran out the final 2:16 to secure their first-ever sectional football victory.

The Orioles rushed for 292 yards in 55 attempts, Wolski running for 176 in 26, both high-water marks for any CHS back this year.

"They had an extra guy outside on their defense we couldn't account for, so we used Luke and Collin as decoys and Zach had a great game," Cox said. "It wasn't easy. He earned every yard."

The Cardinals, who were averaging over 220 yards per game on the ground, were held to 65 yards in 24 attempts, forcing Brant to pass an uncharacteristic 13 times, completing seven for 138 yards.

"When you can make a team do things that they're not comfortable doing, you've got to feel good about that," Cox said. "We gave up a few too many big plays, but overall we played great defense."

Even though the Orioles fell far short of their 56.4 points-per game average and gave up morepoints than in any other game this year, their season continues.

The 12-0 Orioles now are in uncharted territory, advancing to the Class 1 quarterfinal round. They play at 8-4 Archie, a 21-14 victor over Drexel Monday.

There are two common opponents for Concordia and the Whirlwinds. Tipton whipped the Whirlwinds 42-3 in the second week of the season, and the Whirlwinds shut out Crest Ridge 47-13 on Oct. 1. The Orioles just beat Tipton and shut out Crest Ridge 64-0 to finish up a 10-0 perfect regular season on Oct. 28.

At press time, Cox said he doesn't know a lot about the Whirlwinds, except they run a 3-5 stack defense "and blitz a lot."

He is concerned that the Orioles might not respond so well after beating Tipton.

"My concern is that we do not have a letdown game," Cox said. "We hope the kids can get over this win over Tipton. This game against Archie is more important than the game was against Tipton."

At stake is a berth in the Class 1 semifinals Nov. 20 against the winner of the Valle Catholic at Miller game, it, too, being played Saturday.

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