After a 2018 playoff run based largely on Dylan Cain running behind a huge, experienced line, the sense for 2019 was stop Cain, stop Chariton. Opponents might want to rethink that.
The Chargers beat Albia 55-14 on Friday, torching Blue Demon defensive backs for 284 yards and four touchdowns of passing from GradenArnold to three receivers. And it was Albia’s ability to stop the run after a long drive featuring Cain running the ball that caused the Chargers to go to the pass.
“We dominated up front tonight. Our guys up front and in the secondary improved a ton from week one to week two. Graden threw the ball really well and had a great game. We had a ton of yards. They put eight or nine guys in the box to stop our run and played man to man coverage and Payton Lavender and Jackson Curnutte each had big nights receiving,” Chariton Head Coach Curt Smyser said.
Coach Smyser also said that Chariton mainly shut down Albia’s passing game, even though Blake Chance threw for 180 yards.
“They hit some underneath routes but we shut them down and played well. Hunter Koehn had two sacks. Lavender probably played the best game he’s ever had. We’ve still got to keep getting beter each week,” Coach Smyser said.
Charger Nation sensed it was their night when Arnold threw deep over the middle to Payton Lavender, leading 14-7, and Albia’s safety flattened the back judge, letting Lavender scamper for an 84-yard touchdown.
Just about everything the Chargers did turned golden. Just about everything the Blue Demons did turned to ash, in part because of self-inflicted penalties.
The game started with Albia’s Damon Sovern running back the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. David Fisher’s PAT kick left the Charger faithful sitting in stunned silence. It didn’t take long to perk the fans in red back up. Starting at their own 35, Cain had runs of 15, nine, seven, six, seven, two and one (a 13-yard pass to Lavender added another first down) to tie the game 7-7 with 7:30 left in the quarter.
Albia Blake Chance opened Albia’s first drive with a five-yard pass completion but punted on fourth and five. Chariton took over at the 44 and a new three-man front and aggressive linebacking play held Cain to a gain of zero and a five-yard penalty negated an eight-yard gain forcing the Chargers to punt.
Albia’s spread offense started out right with Chance hitting sophomore tightend Jackson Pence for 15 yards to the 40, but Albia was forced to punt after another short pass completion. Nathaniel Wynn’s 52-yard boomer came back on a penalty and his next punt gave Chariton the ball with 4:04 left in the quarter.
The Chargers left their patented rushing attack and Arnold came out slinging. A pass interference penalty gave Chariton a first down at the 34 and then Arnold hit Cain rolling out of the backfield for a short pass that turned into a 66-yard touchdown. Wyatt Chipp added the PAT kick and Chariton led 14-7 with 3:41 left in the quarter.
The Blue Demons’ spread, nearly all pass offense, finally started clicking after a kickoff return to the 42. Chance hit Luke Bossard for 16 yards, but Nick Wood slowed the attack with a sack on the quarterback. Chance got most of what he lost back with a 13-yard completion to Pence, then Blake Stewart caught an 11-yard pass for a first down at the 26. Wynn caught a pass to the 20 and Bossard snared a Chance throw for 14 yards for a first and goal at the seven as the quarter ended.
Read the September 10, 2019 edition of the Chariton Leader for the rest of the story.