ALBIA — The second-ranked Albia football team used an outstanding defensive effort to shut out formerly undefeated Mediapolis 7-0 in the Class 2A quarterfinals Friday.
"We don't play the scoreboard, we try to play within ourselves," Albia coach Jerry Staten said. "If they rip off a big run, its like, 'so what, next play."'
Alex Shultz scored the game's only touchdown on a 3-yard run at the genesis of the second quarter. It was a tale of two halves for the Blue Demon offense, while Albia's defense was rock-solid throughout. The Blue Demons' offensive running game was very effective at the start of the game. Alex Schultz, thanks to some great blocking, continuously creased through holes for solid chunks of yardage. Albia fullback Griffin Osing also got in on the action, as he plowed his way forward for some nice runs.
Ryan Sarver spearheaded the Albia defense with a team-best 12 tackles and Bryce Leshen, Dalton Folkerts, and Carter Isley recorded eight tackles each. While the Blue Demons' pass attack was rendered virtually nonexistent, Albia's run game managed to cobble together 164 yards on 41 carries. The Blue Demons enjoyed the crux of their offensive success in the first half — they failed to convert on one first down in the second half. Bryce Leshen's sole completion in the game was a 4-yard pass to Zach Hugen.
Albia was the embodiment of a bend-but-don't-break defense against the Bulldogs. While the Blue Demon defense's first-half performance was impressive in and of itself, it was Albia's second-half defensive effort that transformed a great performance into a truly exceptional one. Despite being on the field for the majority of the second half, and having to deal with more than their share of adversity, the Blue Demons' defense simply wouldn't fold. Every time the Bulldogs looked to be on the cusp of a scoring drive, Albia would torpedo that threat with a huge defensive play. Coach Staten explained why his defense never surrendered to fatigue or exhaustion in the second half.