SE Valley stays unbeaten
No. 6 Jags hold off Pocahontas Area on the road, finish regular season 7-0
POCAHONTAS — Mike Swieter made a gutsy call late in Southeast Valley’s contest for the district championship, and it didn’t quite pan out.
But the sixth-ranked (Class 1A) Jaguars (7-0 overall, 5-0 in district) responded anyway, trusting in their quarterback and defense as they pulled out a 26-20 victory over Pocahontas Area (5-2, 3-2) to clinch their third district title in the last seven years.
“It’s huge (winning the district title),” Swieter said. “Our whole program, JV, JVR and varsity, finished the season (a combined) 16-0. That is something we can build on for the future. Last year we had eight sophomores, so we could see we had the experience coming back.
“The boys worked hard and this was just a big win (Friday).”
SV went for it on fourth-and-5 from near midfield midway through the fourth quarter but couldn’t cash in, turning the ball over on downs. The Jaguar defense held firm as the Indians had the ball on 4th-and-2 and decided to punt the ball. Carl Berglund then returned a punt 60 yards to set up the Jags for their final possession.
“When we went for it, we had the mindset we were either going to win or lose the game (on that drive),” Swieter said. “Our defense held, then the huge punt return by Carl set us up. We gave them the chance and they decided to punt the ball.”
Berglund’s 40-yard return went to the PAC 40-yard line with 4:54 left in the contest. Southeast Valley remained cautious with the ball, with quarterback Kolson Kruse running keepers on the final drive.
On 2nd-and-9 from the seven-yard line Kruse juked his way to the end zone from seven yards out for the 26-20 advantage. The Jaguars failed on the two-point conversion.
“We’ve made it known that Kolson is a running quarterback,” Swieter said. “Having him run the ball is just like handing it off to a tailback.”
Kaleb Scott put the finishing touches on the victory with an interception when the Indians tried a trick play, sealing the Class 1A, District 2 championship.
“That was a huge play by Kaleb. We were prepared for (the halfback pass),” Swieter said. “We knew they had been setting it up for the whole game. It had worked for them in previous games.”
This is the first time since Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster-Grand consolidated that the Jaguars finished the regular season unbeaten. Prairie Valley had gone undefeated in 2008 and 2009.
With the victory, the Jaguars will have a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will earn a home game in the second round on Oct. 23.
“It’s major. Not just winning the district title, but now, getting a week off to rest up,” Swieter said. “When we are sitting at home, 22 teams (in 1A) will be eliminated and then we are guaranteed a home game.”
Pocahontas Area (5-2) reached the Jaguar 49-yard line before the Scott interception.
Kruse and Lathe Muench had outstanding performances on the ground, as both went over the 100-yard plateau. Kruse finished the night with 134 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Kruse scored the first TD to put the Jaguars up 6-0, and added the final two scores of the game.
Muench added 130 yards on the ground and one score.
“I was really kicking myself after the game for my play-calling,” Swieter said. “We had some huge penalties in the first half. We committed eight for 90 yards and five on one drive. That kind of took us out of my gameplan and forced us to make some different calls.
“I wasn’t happy with my play calls on the two-point conversions, and it put pressure on the coaches.”
Kolbe Rutherford kicked two field goals for the Indians and also caught a touchdown pass.
Quarterback Trey Oehlertz threw two touchdowns for the Indians, hitting Crosgrove and Cole Runneberg.