High School Football: NOT SO FAST

First quarter lead vanishes as Harlan outlasts Greene County, 42-19


Sports Editor 



Harlan – A slim seven-point Greene County first quarter lead quickly evaporated as the Harlan Cyclones ran off a 28-point second quarter to take control of a non district game Friday, Sept. 2, outlasting the Rams, 42-19. 

The loss dropped Greene County to 0-2 on the year but saw glimpses of a high-powered offense that failed to appear in their 34-0 week one loss to Kuemper. 

The Rams put up three touchdowns in Harlan, a vast improvement from a week ago, including a 79-yard touchdown pass and an 80-yard run in the first half to stay within striking distance. 

Senior Tailback Trey Tucker finished the game with 161 rush yards and one touchdown on just 13 carries. Nick Schroeder was the Rams’ leading receiver with four catches for 79 yards. 

Quarterback Clint Dennhardt finished the game with 146 yards passing and two touchdowns – including a 79-yard bomb to Logan Lansman for the game’s first score – and threw just one interception. 

The Rams opened Friday’s contest with guns a-blazing as Dennhardt found Lansman for a long pitch and catch to take a 7-0 lead just three and a half minutes into the game. 

“We came out and were obviously ready to play. We held them on defense and scored when we got the ball to go up seven nothing,” Greene County head coach Dean Lansman said. 

The Greene County defense dug in and dominated the Harlan offense for the first third of the game, holding them scoreless for the opening 19 minutes. The Rams held onto their seven-point lead well into the second quarter before Harlan finally found their footing as tailback Nick Tarney waltzed into the end zone from two yards out at the 5:18 mark to tie the game. That touchdown seemed to open the flood gates, as Harlan scored on their next possession to take a 14-7 lead. 

Greene County was quick to answer on Tucker’s 80-yard touchdown jaunt to pull the Rams within one at 14-13. 

The Cyclones weren’t done scoring, as quarterback Deren Schmitz found Dillon Sears for a 58-yard touchdown as well as a 25-yard strike to Josh Cheek to put Harlan up 28-13 at the break. 

“They got on the board, made some big plays and we gave up some big passes that hurt us,” Lansman said. 

Though the Cyclones only put up 14 second half points – seven each in the third and fourth quarters, they held the Rams scoreless through the entire third period. Harlan focused on stopping Tucker and it left the Greene County offense scrambling. 

“I think defensively, they made some adjustments and started putting six guys up at the line of scrimmage and alleviated us from getting outside,” Lansman said. “We also had some receivers open at times and missed them.” 

Senior Chase Stoline hauled in Dennhardt’s second touchdown of the night, a 14-yard catch early in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 35-19, but it was too little, too late. 

The grind of the game began to wear on the Rams in the second half and the lack of depth began to show as they Cyclones pulled away. While the lead wasn’t insurmountable by any means, asking the offense to show the same burst and energy as they did in the first half was a little much. 

“I think a lot of the second half had to do with the fact that a lot of our kids play both ways and many of the teams we will face are hardly going to play anyone both ways,” Lansman said. “That kind of takes a toll toward the end of the game.” 

Tucker finished the night with a 12.4 yards per carry average and is now up to 251 yards on the season – a 125 yards per game average. The key to Tucker’s success, Lansman said, was the play of the offensive line on Friday. 

“Up front, our blocking was much improved and that helped open up some holes,” the coach said. “I think the kids are getting more comfortable in understanding the scheme and what we want to do. We were able to hit a few more passes this week as well and that opened up some holes.”

Dennhardt’s two touchdown passes were an immense improvement from just a week ago, as the sophomore completed just three passes while throwing two picks in the loss to Kuemper. 

The quarterback was able to find success right off the bat on Friday which led to a better focus, Lansman felt.  

“I think from that first big touchdown pass really settled him down,” the coach said. “You could definitely tell he was more into the game and was using his check downs. That really gave him some confidence and we were able to score and give him some more opportunities. That’s just going to keep getting better.” 

Harlan quarterback Deren Schmitz torched the Rams defense in the win, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns with 74 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Dillon Sears hauled in six passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. 

“Some of the passes (Schmitz) made were nice throws but really, we were out of position and that took its toll,” Lansman said. “We changed it up and played some different coverages but more than anything, we got out of position. That’s something we need to work on in practice.” 

Linebacker Joe Towers once again led the Rams in tackles with 10 and now has a team-leading 23.5 tackles through two games.  

“A lot of the linebacker tackles get credit from the guys up front and sometimes the defensive line really does flow it that way, but he really has a great nose for the ball,” Lansman said. “That helps when you are playing inside linebacker. He makes some good reads and puts him in a position to make plays.”  

Though it was another loss, one that coach Lansman felt was within their grasp, he saw enough from his guys to know they are making strides. 

“We saw a lot of improvement from week one to week two but let one get away from us,” the coach said.  

The Rams are home for the first time this season as they host Dallas Center-Grimes (1-1) on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. 



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