By ROGER THOMAS
---- — ALBIA – Friday night’s Class 2A, District 6 football game in Albia featured two high scoring teams.
Local area fans are well aware of the fourth-ranked Albia success this season. The 7-0 Blue Demons, with the exception of a 21-20 win against Davis County, have put points on the board and easily defeated its other opponents.
What many fans didn't realize was that the Raiders from Collins-Maxwell-Baxter (CMB) were also an offensive-minded group as well. Even though they came in at 3-3 overall, they were averaging over 40 points and had never scored less than 27 points in any game.
After a low-scoring first half, the Blue Demons outscored the visitors 28-0 in the second half to finish off the 42-6 win.
Albia has used a balanced attack of rushing and passing (from a group of players) to outscore its' opponents. CMB’s offense was based on the strong arm and play of quarterback Zach Samson.
The Blue Demon defense bent a couple of times but didn't break while controlling the CMB offense by constantly putting pressure on Samson and his receivers. The Albia defensive backs picked him off four times and did not give up a passing touchdown.
“Our defense really played well tonight, especially in the second half,” said Albia coach Jerry Staton. “Our guys played hard and that allowed them to keep the pressure on.”
The Blue Demon defense stepped up early. They sacked Samson for a 10-yard loss on the visitor’s first drive. On the third play, Samson completed a 40-yard pass but Albia’s defense stripped the ball from the receiver and Shadow Leshen alertly covered the fumble.
After the turnover, that gave the Blue Demons the ball at the CMB 44, an eight-play drive ended with a nine-yard run by Alex Schultz for a 7-0 lead.
The teams traded three and outs before the visitors got on the board. An Albia penalty on a CMB fair catch gave the visitors good field position. Samson scored on a two-yard run with less than a minute to play in the first. The extra point kick was blocked and Albia led 7-6 at the quarter break.
Albia went 80 yards on 11 plays to score on their first possession of the second quarter. They used one of their premier plays, a 23-yard scoring strike from Brett Leshen to Zach Hugen.
Shadow Leshen made his second big defensive play as he picked off a Samson pass to give the ball back to Albia. Albia was forced to punt, but got the ball back again after an interception of Samson by Brett Leshen. Albia failed to score on their final drive of the half so the Blue Demons led 14-6 at the break.
Albia dominated the time of possession in the opening half. Schultz had 97 yards rushing on 15 carries to lead the Blue Demons.
It was looking like it would turn into a workmanlike effort if the Blue Demons were to go on and pick up their seventh win.
“That kind of game would have been OK,” said Staton. “It’s good and important to experience different types of games.”
Albia quickly started to take control in the second half by scoring on their opening drive. The seven-play, 80-yard drive culminated in a 19-yard Schultz touchdown run.
Schultz would have 209 yards on 28 carries to go along with his three scores.
“I like to take it outside if I can but I’m comfortable running off tackle because our linemen do such a good job,” said Schultz.
One of the guys who helped Schultz pick up the yards was guard Ryan Romanco.
“One of the first things I have to do is help control the defensive tackle. We made an adjustment during the game with our blocking,” said Romanco. “I’d say our running game is as good as it has been.”
The Albia defense used a sack and a big play on fourth down to stop CMB’s next drive. The Blue Demons didn’t score but once again the defense stopped CMB on fourth down to get the ball back.
The Blue Demons quickly went up 28-6 as Matt Baker made a highlight-reel catch and turned it into a 52-yard score. Baker was giving up inches and size as he went up between two defenders to make the catch.
“I knew I had to split the safeties and just go up and get it,” said Baker. “Our team is based a lot on trust. We all have jobs to do and we all want the coaches to be able to trust us to make the play.”
CMB (3-4, 1-3) and Samson continued to put the ball in the air and Shadow Leshen picked off his second pass to end another Raider drive.
“The fumble recovery early was big and I think my first interception was my best because of how we were playing coverage,” said Leshen. “It was good to get another one though.”
The Blue Demons turned Leshen’s pick into a 35-6 lead as Schultz banged it in from three yards out.
“Our offensive line did a great job,” said Staton. “This group has played a couple of games together now and our running game is really coming around.”
Albia closed out the scoring with a nine-yard run by Christian Powless. The drive started at the visitors’ 45 after the Blue Demon defense recovered a fumble.
The ball hawking Albia defense wasn't done as Hunter Weldon picked off Samson for the fourth time on the final Raider drive.
Two running plays ran out the clock and the Blue Demons were ready to prepare for win number eight. Albia (7-0, 5-0) will host winless I-35 Friday night needing one more win to clinch a perfect run to the Class 2A, District 6 crown.
“We need to not take anybody for granted,” said Staton. “Right now it’s about playing ourselves, making sure we are as good as we can be."
No. 4 (2A) Albia 42, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter 6
CMB 6 0 0 0 – 6
ALB 7 7 7 21 – 42
Scoring By Quarters
A – Alex Schultz 9 yard run (Justin Bossard kick)
CMB – Zach Samson 2 yard run (kick blocked)
A – Brett Leshen 23 yard pass to Zach Hugen (Bossard kick)
A – Schultz 19 yard run (Bossard kick)
A – Bre. Leshen 52 yard pass to Matt Baker (Bossard kick)
A – Schultz 3 yard run (Bossard kick)
A – Christian Powless 9 yard run (Bossard kick)
First downs 19 25
Rushes-yards 24-100 56-333
Passing yards 231 116
Total Yards 331 449
Comp-Att-Int 18-32-4 5-8-0
Return Yards 6-104 3-18
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-0
Penalties-Yds 8-47 8-60
RUSHING – Zach Samson 17-75 yards, Brady Stover 2-11 yards, Gabe Schabilion 5-14 yards.
PASSING – Samson 18-32, 231 yards.
RECEIVING – Brady Stover 6-92 yards, Austin Moorman 7-92 yards, Hunter Gunderson 2-18 yards, Bryce Kemp 3-29 yards.
TACKLE LEADERS – Bryce Kemp 12.
RUSHING – Alex Schultz 28-209 yards, Matt Baker 5-29 yards, Ryan Sarver 2-11 yards, Luke Sarver 3-3 yards, Brett Leshen 9-50 yards, Zach Hugen 1-(-1) yards, Christian Powless 3-18 yards, Griffin Osing 5-14 yards.
PASSING – Bre. Leshen 5-8, 116 yards.
RECEIVING – Hugen 3-52 yards, Baker 2-64 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS – Shadow Leshen 2, Bre. Leshen, Hunter Weldon.
TACKLE LEADERS – Blake Bayer 13.