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Star struck

October 26, 2013
By ERIC PRATT sports@messengernews.net

Two months ago, Dan Tillo wasn't sure if he'd play football at all for Sioux City North in 2013.

Nine weeks of twists and turns culminated in a performance for the ages by the junior quarterback here Friday.

Tillo passed for 460 yards and rushed for 202 more as his Stars advanced into next week's Class 4A substate round with a 62-39 victory over Fort Dodge last night.

Article Photos

Dodger Stadium had never witnessed an individual effort quite like Tillo's in its 74-year history. FDSH head coach Matt Miller conceded he hadn't, either.

So despite 543 yards of offense, five touchdowns and a fitting finale by super sophomore tailback Sam Cook, the Dodgers (3-6 overall, 1-4 Class 4A, Division 2) succumbed to North (4-5, 2-3) and will miss the postseason for the first time in seven years.

''What can you say - Tillo and (senior receiver Deontre Dean) put on a show,'' Miller said. ''We're obviously frustrated and disappointed that our season had to come to an end like this.

Fact Box

FDSCNFirst Downs2026

Rushes-Yards43-34020-327

Passing Yards203460

Comp-Att-Int10-23-130-40-1

Total Yards543787

Punts-Avg.2-35.50-0.0

Fumbles-Lost2-15-0

Penalties-Yards3-38 6-58

SC North1472021-62

Fort Dodge71778-39

Scoring Summary

SC North - Carlos Elizalde (9-yard pass from Dan Tillo), 1:47 left first. Kevin Perez kick.

Fort Dodge - Zach Anderson (70-yard pass from Andrew Stover), 0:45 left first. Ethan Schwendemann kick.

SC North - Deontre Dean (65-yard pass from Tillo), 0:31 left first. Perez kick.

Fort Dodge - Schwendemann (26-yard field goal), 9:39 left second.

Fort Dodge - Sam Cook (1-yard run), 6:01 left second. Schwendemann kick.

SC North - Dean (3-yard pass from Tillo), 3:37 left second. Perez kick.

Fort Dodge - Cook (30-yard run), 1:16 left second. Schwendemann kick.

SC North - Faris Najdawi (9-yard pass from Tillo), 10:56 left third. Perez kick.

SC North - Dean (6-yard pass from Tillo), 6:03 left third. Perez kick.

Fort Dodge - Stover (2-yard run), 2:12 left third. Schwendeman kick.

SC North - Dean (65-yard pass from Tillo), 1:31 left third. Kick failed.

SC North - Tillo (80-yard run), 11:27 left fourth. Perez kick.

SC North - Tillo (73-yard run), 8:54 left fourth. Perez kick.

SC North - Robert Neustrom (85-yard run), 6:29 left fourth. Perez kick.

Fort Dodge - Cook (3-yard run), 4:32 left fourth. Stover run.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Fort Dodge: Sam Cook 35-265, Andrew Stover 9-75. SC North: Dan Tillo 8-203, Robert Neustrom 5-120, Xavier Scarlett 3-17, Noah Popken 1-2, R.J. Hartnett 1-(minus-2), Antonio Jackson 1-(minus-3), Team 1-(minus-10).

PASSING - Fort Dodge: Andrew Stover 9-22-1-181, Kole Kampen 1-1-0-22. SC North: Dan Tillo 30-40-1-460, Robert Neustrom 0-0-0-0.

RECEIVING - Fort Dodge: Zach Anderson 2-76, Austin Halligan 3-43, Tristan Shaw 1-25, Andrew Stover 1-22, Spencer Barber 1-22, Ben Ahlers 1-12, Brian Murman 1-3. SC North: Deontre Dean 9-176, Cory Schoennher 5-95, Deion Clayborne 4-62, Faris Najdawi 5-56, Xavier Scarlett 2-37, Carlos Elizalde 4-31, Noah Popken 1-3.

''Could we have been better defensively? Been in better position? Better fundamentally? Better stopping plays before they became big gains? Absolutely. But in the end, their playmakers were too much for us to handle. We're not built to get into a shootout, and after we fell behind (in the third quarter), we found ourselves in the middle of one. You have to give them credit for keeping the momentum and the tempo in their favor. They brought our worst fears to life.''

The Stars had 787 yards of total offense - unofficially a 4A all-time team record. Tillo passed for six touchdowns and ran for three more, as the 6-foot-5 left-hander had Fort Dodge at its mercy with an array of pinpoint throws and scrambles into the open field.

Not bad for a player who considered skipping his junior season to concentrate on basketball, and didn't even take over the full-time reins at quarterback until Oct. 3 against Johnston.

''There's just something special about him,'' said North's Shawn Meth, a former head coach at Eagle Grove. ''And there's a chemistry that he has with the other basketball players on this team that is fun to watch. He has a connection with (leading receiver Deontre Dean) - it's like he knows where he's going to be before he's even there. He'll drop it right into his hands through double-coverage.

''We made the decision as a staff (earlier this month) to move Dan back (to quarterback, where he started as a sophomore), and he's really found a rhythm here in the last two weeks.''

Cook incredibly caught Jontel Clayton from behind and will now share Fort Dodge's single-season rushing record with the former Dodger all-stater. He had 265 rushing yards on 35 carries, leaving him in an exact tie with Clayton's 1,608-yard junior campaign of 2009.

''The kids worked hard. They really did,'' Miller said. ''I didn't think (Zach Mason's 2003 total of 1,329 yards) would ever be passed, but Jontel did it. And I didn't think anyone would catch Jontel, but Sam's had one amazing year and he deserves to be up there with the best (for single-season records).

''It's not just a credit to Sam, but to the offensive linemen and teammates doing the blocking for him. We have five senior starters (on the line - Jake Porter, Riley Prescott, Marquan Clayton, Carlos Rocha and part-time starter Brandon Dencklau) who have been around for a long time. Jake and Riley were making their 29th starts (last night). There's something to be said for both Sam and the kids around him. If you would've told me we'd be at this point (running the ball) two months ago, I wouldn't have believed it.''

nior receiver Deontre Dean) put on a show,'' Miller said. ''We're obviously frustrated and disappointed that our season had to come to an end like this.

''Could we have been better defensively? Been in better position? Better fundamentally? Better stopping plays before they became big gains? Absolutely. But in the end, their playmakers were too much for us to handle. We're not built to get into a shootout, and after we fell behind (in the third quarter), we found ourselves in the middle of one. You have to give them credit for keeping the momentum and the tempo in their favor. They brought our worst fears to life.''

The Stars had 787 yards of total offense - unofficially a 4A all-time team record. Tillo threw for six touchdowns and ran for two more, as the 6-foot-5 left-hander had Fort Dodge at its mercy with an array of pinpoint passes and scrambles into the open field.

In the last two games, Tillo has accounted for 1,222 yards of total offense - 917 in the air and 305 on the ground - and 14 touchdowns. He had 457 passing yards and six scores in a 52-42 loss to No. 3 Ames a week ago.

Not bad for a player who considered skipping his junior season on the gridiron to concentrate on basketball, and didn't even take over the full-time reins at quarterback until Oct. 3 against Johnston.

''There's just something special about him,'' said North's Shawn Meth, a former head coach at Eagle Grove. ''And there's a chemistry that he has with the other basketball players on this team that is fun to watch. He has a connection with (Dean) - it's like he knows where Deontre is going to be before he's even there. He'll drop it right into his hands through double-coverage.

''We made the decision as a staff (earlier this month) to move Dan back (to quarterback, where he started as a sophomore), and he's really found a rhythm here in the last two weeks. It's where he belongs.''

Cook incredibly caught Jontel Clayton from behind on the rushing charts and will now share Fort Dodge's single-season record with the former Dodger all-stater. He had 265 yards on 35 carries, leaving him in an exact tie with Clayton's 1,608-yard junior campaign of 2009.

''The kids worked hard. They really did,'' Miller said. ''I didn't think (Zach Mason's 2003 total of 1,329 yards) would ever be (eclipsed), but Jontel did it. And I didn't think anyone would catch Jontel, but Sam's had an amazing year and he deserves to be up there with the best (single-season performers).

''It's not just a credit to Sam, but to the offensive linemen and teammates doing the blocking for him. We have five senior regulars (on the line - Jake Porter, Riley Prescott, Marquan Clayton, Carlos Rocha and Brandon Dencklau) who have been around for a long time. Jake and Riley were making their 29th starts (last night). There's something to be said for both Sam and the kids around him. If you would've told me we'd be at this point (running the ball) two months ago when we were getting started, I wouldn't have believed it. I really tip my hat to them.''

Cook scored three times for the Dodgers, who led 24-21 at halftime and still trailed only 41-31 late in the third quarter before North opened the floodgates. The Stars' final three touchdowns came on quarterback keepers, covering 80 and 73 yards by Tillo and 85 by back-up signal-caller Robert Neustrom.

Dean, meanwhile, had nine catches for 176 yards and four TDs as Tillo's favorite target. The 6-foot-3 receiver has 21 receptions for 443 yards and eight scores in the last two weeks.

''(Dean) is one of the best I've ever seen,'' Miller said. ''(Iowa State recruit and four-star receiver Allen) Lazard (of Urbandale) is Lazard, but this Dean kid can really play. He has the same kind of size (as Lazard) and goes and gets it.''

Senior Zach Anderson hauled a 70-yard TD reception from Dodger classmate Andrew Stover, who had 181 yards on Friday and closed his career with 3,265 passing yards. Senior Gunnar Conrad turned one of Tillo's few mistakes into an interception for FDSH, and junior kicker Ethan Schwendemann booted a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter.

''I want to take the time to thank our kids - especially the seniors,'' Miller said. ''They showed a lot of heart and gave it their all, but I think our low-fuel light was on in that second half. We played about as well as we could when we had the ball in the first half. It just seemed like we got worn out chasing them around (down the stretch).

''I'm always proud of the time and effort our guys give to this program. No matter what that scoreboard reads, they are ultimately defined by the effort and determination they show - not the wins or the losses.''

Tristan Shaw, Brandon Archibald, Cory Alexander, Brandan Schoenfeld, Berch Fritz, Kody Linder, Nick Taylor, Dale Johnson, Conrad, Stover, Prescott, Dencklau, Rocha, Clayton, Porter and Anderson suited up for the final time in a Dodger football uniform.

North will face eighth-ranked Valley (7-2) in West Des Moines on Wednesday in a 4A substate contest. The Tigers pummeled Sioux City East last night, 42-7.

 
 

 

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