BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The best thing that can be said about Friday’s Bloodhound football game is that the Solon Spartans are on a bus headed out of town.
It was as expected as the third best Class 3A team in the state scored early and often against an overmatched Fort Madison squad in a 49-6 route with the Hounds’ final score coming on a dazzling 35-yard run by junior Diego Lozano with just over four minutes remaining on a running clock.
Lozano’s score actually made it 42-6, but the Spartans decided to air it out with a 36-point lead and just 1:36 left in the game. Nathan Steffans hooked up with a receiver who got behind the secondary and raced to the endzone for a 49-6 win.
Lozano led the Hounds on the ground with 44 yards on just two carries. Kaeli Maestro had five carries for just 13 yards.
Fort Madison had two decent drives on the night. The first coming on the opening series where senior quarterback Lennon Barker connected on his first four passes of the night. An illegal procedure penalty put the Hounds at 3rd and 8, but Barker found Parker Denning on the north sidelines for a 9-yard reception to give the Hounds a first down. Barker and Parker hooked up again for a 3-yard gain on 1st and 10, but Solon would get their feet under them and force Barker into a quick incompletion and then a sack, forcing a short punt to the Hounds 40.
Solon’s offensive machine went to work and, in just three plays, junior Cam Miller found AJ Coons for a 22-yard scoring strike. Coons looked to have bobbled the catch but got control before stepping out in the endzone on the south side.
Fort Madison would get a quick three and out after the kickoff. Barker would throw two incompletions and get sacked for a four-yard loss before punting again. The Spartans would return the punt all the way to the Hounds’ 29. A holding penalty pushed the Spartans back 10, but they scored four plays later when senior Adam Bock bulled in the middle from 4-yards to make it 14-0.
The Spartans would score on their next two possessions sandwiched around two Bloodhound series that failed to produce a first down. Barker was 0-5 and took a 5-yard sack in the two series.
Solon took the first punt back to the FMHS 5-yard line and Miller would run it in from there on the third play. After the Bloodhounds threw three straight incompletions, Solon then went on a 7-play, 55-yard scoring driving with Bock scoring on a 9-yard run to make it 28-0.
The Bloodhounds then put together the best drive of the night. Junior Mike Mosena took the kick off up the middle and then bounced to his left and returned it all the way to the Solon 27. However the play came back on a hold and the Hounds had to start back at their own 17. Kaeli Maestro then took the next handoff and was met by about three Spartans before the line of scrimmage, however the Spartan’s Coal Flansburg was called for a personal foul for helmet-to-helmet contact and the Hounds were in business at their 30.
Barker got nothing on a carry on 1st and 10, but found Trey Kuntz for nine yards to the 39. Barker missed on 3rd and 1, but then ran off tackle for six yards for a first down to the Hounds’ 45. He’d hook up with senior Dom Frantz for nine yards on 1-10 and then find Sheymouhr Redd-Donald for five for another first down putting the ball in Spartan territory for the first time. Barker then turned to junior Quentin Schneider who caught two passes back-to-back for 22 yards. The second was a nice outstretched fingertip grab over the middle in hostile territory for 15 yards to get the ball to the Spartans’ 13 and a first down.
The Hounds’ luck would run out from there as Barker threw two incompletions, forcing an AJ Nolting 13-yard field goal attempt that was blocked and the Spartans took over on downs.
The Hounds held on the next possession forcing a punt, but couldn’t get anything going and quickly punted the ball away. The Spartans wouldn’t let the next opportunity go by, getting four first downs in the next five plays and scored when Miller found Dillon Holt cutting across the back of the endzone for a 6-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 35-0.
The Hounds would get a couple breaks in the form of two personal foul penalties for roughing the passer and a face mask, but didn’t capitalize on the free yardage and again had to punt to Solon with 1:42 left in the half. A Lozano sack on 4th and 1 ended the half without any further damage.
Solon came out of the lockerroom and went right to work after taking the kickoff to the 35. Bock did all the damage from there with a 10-yard run and then capped it off with a 55-yard scamper right up the middle for a 42-0 lead, which would hold up until Lozano’s score late in the game. Barker was sidelined for the second half and Head Coach Tony Shiffman said that was preservation.
“He was getting banged around like a pinata back there and we’ve got a half a season yet to play, so that was just better safe than sorry.”
Shiffman said Solon is a supreme team in the state and it showed.
“I thought we competed better tonight and got off our shutout streak, but they are just a good football team. They probably have four players going Division 1 and have talent coming out the ying-yang and they showed it.”
“I thought we did a better job of not giving up, but at the end of the day that’s the difference between Solon and other schools in southeast Iowa. They go 100% on each and every rep. They are supremely physical and very well coached.”
Defensively, Lozano had 9 tackles and two sacks on the night to lead the Hounds. Barker went 12 of 28 for 78 yards and one interception. Will Larson was 5 of 7 for 4 yards The two combined to connect with seven different receivers. Junior Quentin Schneider led the team with 22 yards on two catches.
The Hounds fall to 2-3 on the season going into Homecoming week with a matchup against Fairfield who is also 2-3 after losing to Mt. Pleasant 17-35 Friday.