After dropping the first two games to start their 2021 campaign, the Midland football team hasn’t hit the panic button as they slowly wait for their roster to get healthy allowing the Eagles to make a serious run in class 8-player district 5 play this fall.
“We lost two non-district games with several key guys on the sideline not able to play,” said Midland football coach Lennie Miller, as his team is not only gradually getting more and more healthy, but the roster is beginning to round into form as the Eagles, the visitors on their own home field in Wyoming, played Calamus-Wheatland to open district action Friday, Sept. 3, and cruised to a lopsided 48-6 rout over the Warriors.
“We took our lumps the last two games and we wanted to come into this one getting back to playing our style of football, control tempo, set the tone immediately and not give Calamus-Wheatland any reason to think they had a chance to be able to hang with us in this game. The boys responded exactly the way we knew they would. This game came at the perfect time for us to get some things straightened out, and was exactly what the doctor ordered. We got healthy in a lot of different ways, which was just what we needed after the first two weeks of the season.”
Calamus-Wheatland, new to football and the 8-player game this fall, calls Wyoming home this season, thus the Eagles (1-2, 1-0) were the visitors on the scoreboard Friday night and wore their white, away jerseys.
Midland however, made themselves right at home scoring touchdowns on their first six possessions, four coming in the game’s opening quarter as the visitors took firm control of the contest using a balanced offensive attack that saw the Eagles score on the ground and through the air.
“We did a little of everything in this game, and then got to work on some other stuff with some different kids playing different positions on the field,” Miller said. “Not only did our varsity guys play well, but when we brought the JV kids in there wasn’t even too much drop off there either. I was very impressed with everyone who took the field. They did their jobs and had success. It’s nice when a plan can come together like that.”
The Eagles also got starting quarterback Caden Ballou back after an ankle injury sidelined the Midland star last week, and limited his abilities in the season-opener at Lone Tree two weeks ago.
“That was big, for us and Caden,” Miller said. “We were still being very careful with that ankle, but he looked like his normal self against Cal-Wheat, and it sure didn’t take him long either.”
On Midland’s second play from scrimmage, Ballou handed the football off to Brayden Grau who broke free for a huge 48 yard touchdown scamper.
After Ballou added the two-point conversion, the Eagles had a very quick 8-0 lead.
They were just getting started.
Ballou, on Midland’s second possession of the game, dropped back to pass and found Jamisen Dodge for a 17-yard scoring strike ending a three-play, 38-yard drive.
Ballou took care of the scoring himself on the Eagles’ third possession, rambling into the end zone from 18 yards out handing Midland a 22-0 lead.
The first quarter scoring still wasn’t done.
Grau added a second touchdown in the opening frame, this one coming from 20 yards out, and the visitors had a commanding 28-0 advantage at the first quarter horn.
Ballou found the end zone again scoring on a 28-yard run early in the second quarter, and the Eagles were up 34-0.
Zain Sauer got into the scoring fun next taking off for a 43-yard scamper pushing the Midland lead to 42-0, which is where it stood as the two teams went into the halftime break.
“By that point we decided to take Caden out of the game to make sure nothing happens to that ankle,” Miller said. “The guys never let up and just kept attacking.”
Sauer, who had taken over at quarterback in the second half, immediately found Jonny Thomsen open on a 63-yard pass play that again had Eagle fans on their feet as the continuous clock was rolling.
“Zain got some more reps at quarterback and looked really good finding Jonny on that long pass play,” Miller said. “We had all of our JV kids on the field and got them some experience, and all of them did what we needed them to do and had success.”
The Warriors ended the scoring tallying a fourth quarter touchdown as Midland amassed 385 yards of total offense in the game, with 239 coming on the ground while holding Calamus-Wheatland to a mere 163 total yards.
The Eagles also took advantage of four Warrior turnovers.
Grau led a balanced rushing attack for the Midland team coming through with 86 yards on five carries while Sauer (55 yards), Ballou (53), Kaleb Westphal (15), Seth Bixler (12), Benjamin Shoaff (10) and Owen Sterk (8) all added to the Eagles success rushing the football.
Ballou was a perfect 5-of-5 passing for 75 yards while Bixler, Sterk and Wyatt Hansen all paced the Midland defense coming up with six tackles each.
“I feel like we’re back on track and ready to give a very good Easton Valley team a game this Friday night,” Miller said. “We’ll have even more kids back on the field, which could give us an edge. Easton Valley won’t have too much film on us, with us having so many guys out, but we should have plenty on them. Hopefully that will make a difference.”