High School Football: Growing pains

Rams’ inexperience shows in deflating season-opening loss to Kuemper


Sports Editor 




CARROLL –  The Greene County football team fell in a hole early, one they could never dig out of in a 34-0 loss to Kuemper in the opening week of the high school season. 

The Knights’ Miles Rupiper broke open a 48-yard touchdown run on just Kuemper’s second play from scrimmage en route to a three touchdown, 143 yard day on the ground, powering the 2A squad to a convincing victory.  

The Rams struggled mightily on offense, piling up just 175 total yards throughout the four quarters. 

Greene County had a tough time adjusting with several new starters on both sides of the ball, including a new quarterback and running back. 

Though the Rams didn’t put any points on the scoreboard, the defense stood tall for most of the evening minus a few long touchdowns scattered throughout. The offense kept pushing as well until the final whistle, falling just short of a touchdown in the closing seconds of the game. 

“What we take away from Friday is that we saw glimpses of positive things that happened,” Greene County head coach Dean Lansman said. “But at the same time we had turnovers at crucial times when we were putting drives together and that hurt us. It’s tough to overcome that.”

Senior place kicker Nick Schroeder had a field goal wiped off the board at the end of the first half, nearly ending the shutout. The 30-yard field, which originally was called good by the line judge, was erased shortly thereafter once the referees met for a brief conference. 

The Rams trailed at the half, 14-0, but couldn’t pull any closer as the Knights ran off 13 points in the third quarter and then seven more in the fourth to close out the victory. 

The Rams turned the ball over three times – two interceptions and a lost fumble – while also bobbling the center-to quarterback exchange on three separate occasions. The mistakes, Lansman said, could have been due to the on-the-fly adjustments his players were trying to make. 

“Another thing that you saw was the inexperience we have on both sides of the ball,” the coach said. “But the positive is that we know we are going to get better from week to week.” 

Sophomore quarterback Clint Dennhardt was just 3-for-18 in the game with two interceptions, both in the first half. The righty, making only his second career start, stumbled to a rough start, throwing incompletions on his first seven passes. 

Dennhardt struggled to adjust to the speed of the game while also trying to collect his composure. 

“The coaching staff was really trying to calm his nerves down, he was really nervous going in,” Lansman said. “Being young and inexperienced stepping into a varsity game can be very overwhelming. We tried to put him in positions to be successful. We let the other running backs carry the load and told him to use his check downs. It didn’t have to be any big plays, just keep it simple and get some confidence. “

The Rams did find a bit of success in the run game, as senior Trey Tucker ran for 90 yards on 16 carries and junior Jake Berns found a few holes for 85 yards on 11 carries, including a 30-yard run around the outside early in the second quarter. 

“The coaches did a nice job finding where we could excel in the run game. I thought the line did a nice job and got a little of a push and actually gave Clint a lot of time to throw,” Lansman said. “Those are some good, positives we can build on going into this week.”

To get the passing game off the ground, Lansman said he and the coaches will reassess the game plan and work on tightening up the play-calling while also working with the receivers and quarterbacks. 

“We need to maybe shorten up the routes a little bit. Make sure Clint has confidence in himself and lets the receivers make the plays,” the coach said. “I think pretty much it will be just putting everyone in a position to be successful. It doesn’t have to be big plays. Short passes can be just as good as a good run game.”

Besides Rupiper’s 143 yards rushing, the Rams held the Knights to just 129 additional yards. Quarterback Gage Gunnerson completed just two of eight passes for 22 yards and forced a couple of turnover on downs. 

Junior Joe Towers led the team in tackles with 13.5, 10 solo, followed by Berns with eight. Hunter Ruth recorded two sacks to go with his 7.5 total tackles. 

The Rams are on the road again Friday as they take on the 0-1 Harlan Cyclones. 




Behind Xavier Hayes' four rushing touchdowns, the Greene County freshmen team held on for a 34-26 win over Kuemper Friday, Aug. 26. Hayes led the team in rushing with 121 yards, 117 in the first half. As a team, the Rams piled up 345 yards. Quarterback Brent Riley threw for  113 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver WIll Hansen. The score was tied at 20 at the halftime break before Greene County ran off 14 unanswered points to take the lead for good. Kolby Kafer put the game away midway through the fourth quarter with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Rams up 34-20. A late Knight touchdown and failed two-point conversation was all the offense Kuemper could muster in the second half. 

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