Dike-New Hartford upsets Grundy Center in defensive scrap

Dike-New Hartford's Jerek Hall (8) celebrates after grabbing a touchdown pass from Jacob Stockdale in the fourth quarter of Friday's game in Dike against Grundy Center. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder

DIKE – Jerek Hall could feel the nerves.

Friday’s football game between Dike-New Hartford and Grundy Center boiled down to a 4th-and-long play where the D-NH junior would find his way to the endzone, waiting for the pass from Wolverine quarterback Jacob Stockdale.

Stockdale rolled to his right and, noticing that the Spartans’ safety had come in to try and prevent Stockdale from scrambling for a first down, fired a high pass to Hall.

“I was way nervous,” Hall said. “We saw something in their defense and counted on them making that mistake. And they trusted me, I don’t know why.”

The Wolverines’ trust was well-placed, and Hall won the jump ball in the end zone, coming down with the eventual game-winning 31-yard touchdown reception that lifted D-NH to a major 13-10 victory over the highly-ranked Spartans at D-NH High School on Friday night.

Keep reading the story below thanks to this local supporter of Grundy Center athletics and Friday Night Lights!

D-NH improves to 2-0 and welcomes Clear Lake to Dike in Week 3. Grundy Center falls to 1-1 and opens district play at Wapsie Valley next Friday. It was Grundy Center’s first loss outside of the UNI-Dome since Oct. 4, 2019.

“Hats off to them, they made a great play at the end of the game to win it. Now we’ve got to decide what we’re going to do with this loss moving forward,” Grundy head coach Travis Zajac said. “And I know that it’s going to steel our kids, and we’re going to be pretty excited to play next Friday.”

D-NH head coach Don Betts joked with his team in the post-game huddle that Hall “couldn’t catch a cold.”

But in a battle that was equal parts memorable and messy, Betts spelled out to his team what truly mattered.

“What do we always say,” Betts said. “We find a way to win.”

The Wolverines had to brush off five turnovers on Friday night, including a lost fumble that led to a long touchdown pass from Logan Knaack to Dexter Whitehill with two minutes left in the first quarter, kicking off Friday’s scoring.

Parker Adams answered with two interceptions for the D-NH defense, the first of which he returned to the Grundy two-yard line.

“He sets the tone for the whole defense,” said D-NH junior Wil Textor. “He works his butt off every day.”

Two plays later Rhett Wardell was in the end zone for the touchdown, and Nolan Dall’s point-after try tied the game at 7-all with 6:12 left in the second quarter, which would also be the halftime score.

Neither team could break through in the third quarter. But the Spartans came knocking midway through the fourth quarter after Knaack connected with Ben Wegmann for a 31-yard gain that made it goal-to go from the D-NH 8.

However, the Wolverines held strong, and the Spartans had to settle for a 28-yard Colin Gordon field goal with 5:12 remaining in the game.

“Walking away with three was a disappointment there,” Zajac said. “We had far too many penalties, sloppy play, and all that falls at the feet of the head coach - that’s my responsibility, and I need to clean that up.”

The Wolverines started at their own 27-yard line on the ensuing drive, getting a key third-down-and-17 conversion on a pass from Stockdale to Devon Kollasch for 22 yards. Grundy’s defense did its job to hold tough with a couple pass breakups, and forced D-NH to make the play on fourth down with the game on the line.

Stockdale and Hall delivered.

“That’s playmakers making plays,” Betts said. “And you don’t have to be a skill kid to be a playmaker. Our offensive line gave Jake the time to throw and he put it in a spot where Jerek would have a chance to win a 50/50 ball. Playmakers making plays.”

D-NH’s point-after kick after the Hall touchdown catch was off the mark, which gave Grundy Center the opportunity to potentially get in range for Gordon to kick an equalizer with one timeout to work with. The Wolverines held the Spartans to a four-and-out, however, clamping down on a night where D-NH did everything in its power to make all-state Spartan quarterback Logan Knaack scratch and claw for every yard as the leader of the Grundy offense, with Textor often leading the charge into the Spartan backfield.

“Dike was tough and physical on the line of scrimmage,” Zajac said. “We’ve just got to find the teachable things on tape to correct mistakes, but also celebrate some of the successes, because we did have some of those.”

The Spartans only had a handful of plays go for 10 or more yards, and only two that went 20-plus yards: the touchdown to Whitehill and the long completion to Wegmann.

“We wanted to keep everything in front of us,” Betts said. “Knaack is a tremendous, tremendous football player, and he broke one loose on us but for the most part, we were able to corral him and that was the game plan.”

And nobody was tougher on the D-NH sideline than Betts himself, who didn’t hide his dissatisfaction with his team’s performance earlier in the game, firing up the guys during a timeout.

“He came out and told us we need to fix it up,” Textor said. “And we did that. We didn’t play a great game, we have lots of mistakes to be fixed. But we battled, and we won.”

Two weeks, two upset victories for Dike-New Hartford after starting the season with a win against Waterloo Columbus. But the Wolverines said after Friday’s win they knew what they had all along.

“We’ve been working hard all summer, and we knew we weren’t going to be in the preseason rankings or anything,” Stockdale said. “That doesn’t matter. We knew we had to bust our butt every game. … The momentum is rolling now, we just need to keep it going.”


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