Quick. Compose your postgame speech to your team after this happened:
You were outgained 481-453.
You allowed 50 points.
You scored 104 points.
That was Audubon coach Sean Birks’ dilemma last Friday after his Wheelers beat Woodbine 104-50 in Eight-Man action. Audubon’s points are third in Eight-Man history, behind Melcher-Dallas (116 in 2005) and Walnut (105 in 2004).
“It was kind of a weird feeling after the game, knowing we gave up that many points and that many yards, but still playing that well offensively,” said Birks, whose team improved to 2-2 after road losses at Fremont-Mills (39-21) and Exira-EHK (34-28).
Junior quarterback Skyler Schultes carried 25 times for 292 yards and eight touchdowns for the Wheelers, while junior Jackson Jensen’s 14 PAT kicks set an all-class state record, breaking the mark of last year’s Audubon kicker, Roope Niskanen, who made 13 in a game.
Friday’s game started one-sided. Audubon led 35-6 less than nine minutes in and 62-24 at the half. By rule, the clock runs continuously in the second half when one team leads by 35 points or more.
“At halftime, we stressed one stop and one score, and then the JV could play,” Birks said.
However, Woodbine scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half. That dropped it under the 35-point plateau twice, returning the clock to normal.
For Woodbine (1-3), junior Wyatt Pryor threw for 175 yards and ran for 76 and three scores. Senior Tyler Coberly ran for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Birks said part of the reason his team was outgained was that Woodbine attempted many onside kicks, giving Audubon short fields. Of the Wheelers’ 13 TD drives, 11 covered 46 yards or less. Meanwhile, Woodbine had seven scoring drives of 50 yards or more.
“We were having a tough time stopping them,” Birks said. “Offensively, we had to keep scoring because at the rate they were scoring, they were going to put some pressure on us.”
Audubon eventually pulled away. It led 83-38 with 3:38 left in the third, and its JV played the fourth quarter. One of Audubon’s late scores came on a 1-yard fumble return. The Wheelers passed the 100-point mark on a 47-yard touchdown run by 119-pound freshman Braden Wessel with 2:34 left after a Woodbine muffed punt.
Birks said it would have been a disservice to have his younger players not attempt to score.
“The JV kids were going to go out there and play,” Birks said. “They were going to give an effort.”