Fourth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond played vintage Dick Tighe football Friday night.
The only thing the performance lacked was Tighe, who missed the game due to the passing of his wife, Margot, earlier in the day.
Without their legendary leader, the Gaels scored three times on defense in earning a decisive 42-14 victory over No. 8 (A) Mason City Newman inside Dodger Stadium.
Messenger photo by Dale Wooten
St. Edmond’s Dillon Nelson jars the ball loose against Mason City Newman on Friday inside Dodger Stadium. For more photos, please visit CU?at www.messengernews.net
Alex Mericle broke the 100-yard mark for the second time this year and scored two touchdowns, while Matt Stumpf and Landon Peed each returned interceptions for scores. St. Edmond (2-0 overall) scored the final 33 points of the game after the Knights (0-2) claimed a 14-9 advantage in the second quarter.
"There was no way we were going to lose this game," said Stumpf, a senior who has grown into a two-way starter on Tighe. "We were fired up (with the safety on the first possession), and we carried all those emotions over into the rest of the game."
Visitation for Margot Tighe will be Monday from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Webster City. The funeral is Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
Rushing - St. Edmond: Alex Mericle 16-115, Michael Faiferlick 1-80, Matt Stumpf 1-23, Vinnie Harvey 6-12, Aaron McElroy 5-6, David Flattery 1-(minus-16). Mason City Newman: Joe Burgmeier 32-112, Trystan Mariner 3-22, Carter Niedermayer 7-11, Jasson Woods 2-8, Spencer Schmidt 4-3, Hayden Romig 2-3, Casey Hall 3-2, Trevor Callahan 2-(minus-3).
Passing - St. Edmond: Flattery 1-8-0-7, Matthew Bocken 0-0-0-0. Mason City Newman: Callahan 7-16-4-53.
Receiving - St. Edmond: Stumpf 1-7. Mason City Newman: John Waters 3-27, Hall 1-10, Burgmeier 2-9, Jack Fitzgerald 1-7.
"Margot was always right by Dick's side," SEHS athletics director Joe Shanks said. "My wife would sit with her during games and they had great conversations. She was an exceptional person who lived an incredible life and will be deeply missed."
Once Tighe watches the replay of St. Edmond's effort vs. Newman, who advanced to the state semifinals a year ago, he will likely be pleased. The Gaels were plus-3 in the turnover department and limited the Knights to less than three yards per carry on the ground.
Assistant coaches Pat Schomberg and Cory Naughton worked closely with Tighe earlier in the week to prepare them in case Tighe couldn't be there. Both stuck very closely to Tighe's plan of attack, which has worked for nearly 60 years.
"Why would you differ from something that has been so successful," Schomberg asked. "Dick knows what he is doing and we weren't going to get away from what we would have done had he been coaching."
Naughton added to that, saying, "the kids are used to playing this style of football, so we didn't want to change from what they already know."
Jimmy Averill blocked a Newman punt on the opening drive, and the ball was eventually batted out of the end zone for a safety. After the St. Edmond offense was unable to get on track, Stumpf picked off the first of two Trevor Callahan passes and hit paydirt. He later added a 23-yard touchdown run.
"I've been telling everybody for three years that I would return an interception for a touchdown," smiled Stumpf. "Our defense played great; Landon had a huge interception return. Our lines blocked great for Alex and we played a smart game."
The Knights, behind Joe Burgmeier who finished with 32 carries for 112 yards, answered back two consecutive scores in just over a minute of action.
"Coach Tighe always talks about how each game is a rollercoaster and you have to ride out the lows and the highs," Naughton said. "This game had a lot of those, especially early on. We were able to overcome that outburst and came right back (with 33 unanswered points)."
Peed took a tipped pass back 35 yards, and Mericle added 5- and 40-yard TD jaunts. Sophomore Michael Faiferlick put the finishing touches on the game with an 80-yard run on his first - and only - carry of the contest.
"Newman is a very good team," Schomberg said. "We were able to take advantage of their turnovers and make the score a little more lopsided than the game was."
St. Edmond returns to action next Friday night when they open up 1A, District 2 play at Maple Valley-Anthon Oto.