JAGUARS DO IT AGAIN
Southeast Valley routs Denver, 34-7; rematch with Titans up next
GOWRIE — Mike Swieter was worried about Denver’s big-play capabilities.
Instead, it was his Southeast Valley football squad that put together a highlight reel of their own.
The fifth-ranked Jaguars (9-0 overall) advanced to the Class 1A quarterfinals for the second time in three years with a convincing 34-7 victory over Denver (6-4) here on Friday night.
The victory sets up the rematch with seventh-ranked South Central Calhoun next week. The Jaguars won the Week 5 matchup 32-23.
Heading into the contest, Swieter felt the Cyclones’ ability to come up with big plays — along with their special teams play — could be a deciding factor. The Jaguar defense answered the call, though, allowing only 186 yards of total offense.
“Our defense really stepped up,” Swieter said. “We came up with the big plays when we needed to and were able to flush them outside. Our defensive line did a great job.”
The Jaguars grabbed all the momentum in three plays over the span of about a minute. With 49 seconds left in the first half, Kruse hit Sam Hanson from 25 yards out to give the Jaguars a 14-0 lead heading into the locker room.
On the first play of the third quarter, Lathe Muench then broke off a 63-yard run from the 20-yard line on a half-back counter. Senior Hunter Sorenson did the rest, bursting up the middle from 17 yards out to take the wind out of the Cyclones’ sails.
Kruse added the two-point conversion for a 22-0 edge.
“Lathe had two yards at halftime. They had a gameplan to try and stop him,” Swieter said. “We needed to change some things up in the second half. Two plays later, we had 80 yards on the ground.
“With Lathe’s big run, that felt like the dagger.”
The Jaguars again relied heavily on long, sustaining drives. With a 22-0 lead, Southeast Valley went to their ground-and-pound ball with backs Muench and Sorenson.
“What really got us going was our offensive line,” Swieter said. “They weren’t as big and physical as us, and their speed package was screwing up our offensive scheme early. So we went more with our ‘beef’ scheme to be able to run the ball more effectively.
“The line never gets enough credit. To get 396 yards of offense in the playoffs is huge.”
After turning the Cyclones away, the Jaguars went on a methodical 13-play 84-yard scoring drive, that took off five minutes of the clock capped with a 12-yard touchdown plunge from Muench to make it 28-0.
The Jaguars’ final score came on a 47-yard drive with under a minute to go in the contest. Muench reached paydirt for his second TD of the night from 13 yards out.
Southeast Valley jumped on the board early in the first after a big run, capped off by a Kruse 8-yard dart to the end zone, ending a 64-yard drive. Muench punched in the two-point conversion.
The Cyclones marched right back down the field and were in the red zone, when the Jaguars came up with a huge defensive stop. Kruse picked off a Isaac Besh pass at the 5-yard line.
“That was a major play on defense from Kolson,” Swieter said. “It was a huge difference in the game.”
Muench finished the contest with 159 yards on the ground. Kruse ran for 81 and threw for 80 yards.
Kruse led the defense with nine tackles. Sophomore Justin Loseke had 8.5, while seniors Jaxon Carlson and Carson Lambert had six each. Junior Aaron Graves had six as well, two for loss.
“Jaxon is opposite side of Aaron on the line and is one of the most improved,” Swieter said. “He doesn’t have a ton of tackles, but he puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
“By the time he (Loseke) is done, he will be an all-state caliber linebacker.”
Denver’s lone score of the game came on a three-yard touchdown run from Caylor Hoffer.