By Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CAMANCHE — Football coaches often say their teams make the greatest improvement between the first and second games of the season. With two days between halves, Camanche coach Steve Dougherty and Bellevue coach Chet Knake had a similar opportunity in their first game alone.
Both were satisfied with the results.
“Absolutely, we played better,” Dougherty said.
Bellevue was ahead 28-6 at halftime Friday when a lightning storm forced officials to suspend the game. The Comets finished off the 35-12 win Monday evening, with things a little more even.
“I’ve never played two halves of football on two separate days. It’s different. Took the weekend off, and I’m glad we came out and got the ‘W,’ “ Bellevue junior quarterback Keenan Ploessl said.
”It’s a unique situation,” Knake said. “I don’t blame Camanche for wanting to keep playing. They had to work on some things. It’s one of those things both teams have to deal with.
”We told them it’s just an extended halftime. We’ve got to find a way to get refocused and treat it like the score is 0-0 and come out and improve. We need to improve, too. We did a lot of things wrong in the first half. I don’t know how much we improved this half, but that was our goal to improve. Some kids stepped up and made big plays. This was a good learning half to take into next week.”
Dougherty said: “I’ve been doing this 24 years and I’ve never been in a situation like this where you had three days to finish a game. I don’t like it. Good or bad, I don’t like it.”
There certainly was more good when the game resumed than the Indians saw in Friday’s first half.
”We definitely played a lot better than on Friday night,” Easton McDaniel said. “You’ve just got to play the game how it’s played. Even though coming out with a deficit, we had a lot more intensity, built up a lot more adrenaline trying to get that ‘W,’ but you just kind of handle it like any other football game.”
Dougherty said the Indians did a much better job defending the Bellevue spread offense, which finished with 403 total yards. The Comets gained 220 of that in the first half.
”Absolutely we played better,” he said. “We had much better linebacker play than we did Friday night. The line made the improvements that we focused on Saturday and Monday morning. The coaches are pleased with what they saw. There’s still room for improvement. The kids will never let us down as far as working hard.”
Bellevue got big days from several offensive players. Ploessl completed 16 of 31 passes for 287 yards over the two days, Tyler Banowetz caught seven of them for 119 yards and Jace Michels carried the ball 17 times for 117 yards.
Ploessl directed a nine-play, 62-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter when play resumed. Tyler Banowetz made a leaping, diving, one-handed catch in the end zone on the third-and-20 play from the 21.
”That was an amazing catch,” Knake said.
”That catch was great,” Ploessl said. “Actually, to tell you the truth, it was all luck. I just kind of threw it up, and I got it to the spot where Banowetz could make the play.”
The Comets drove from their 30 to the Camanche 7 on their next possession in a drive marred by five penalties for 45 yards. It ended, though, when Ben Lawrence missed a 25-yard field goal attempt.
Camanche’s McDaniel broke off a long touchdown run down the left sideline on the next play, gaining 80 of the Indians’ 109 yards of offense in the second half.
”The linemen did their jobs,” he said. “I saw the hole and I saw daylight and I just went for it.”
Dougherty said: “We’ve got plenty of team speed. We’ve just got to improve the blocking up front. We’ve got to move our feet and maintain our blocks. That’s something the kids won’t shy away from. They’ll work very, very hard, and that’s one of the key factors to us coming in on Friday.”
Though he wouldn’t want to do it again, Dougherty said the Indians did benefit from resuming the game. They hope it carries over to Friday, when they play host to Anamosa.
”This was a nice — look at it as a scrimmage — that we can evaluate our athletes,” Dougherty said. “We’ll have a normal practice Wednesday and Thursday. It is what it is so you just work with what you’ve got and we’ve got three days to get ready for Anamosa.”
BELLEVUE 34, CAMANCHE 12
Bellevue 14 14 7 0 — 35
Camanche 6 0 0 6 — 12
C — Brady Beal 3 run (kick blocked), 8:13
B — Jace Michels 9 run (Ben Lawrence kick), 4:16
B — Lawrence 33 pass from Keenan Ploessl (Lawrence kick), 0:01
B — Michels 42 run (Lawrence kick), 10:40
B — Michels 3 run (Lawrence kick), 7:33
B — Tyler Banowetz 21 pass from Ploessl (Lawrence kick), 7:55
C — Easton McDaniel 80 run (run failed), 11:36
RUSHING — Bellevue (32-116), Jace Michels 17-117, Tyler Banowetz 2-11, Devon Whitmore 1-5, Noah Reed 9-7, Keenan Ploessl 3-minus-24; Camanche (31-127), Easton McDaniel 4-81, Brady Beal 25-37, Ryan Langston 2-9.
PASSING — Bellevue (16-31-0-287), Ploessl 16-31-0-287; Camanche (10-20-1-145), Beal 10-20-1-145.
RECEIVING — Banowetz 7-119, Ben Lawrence 5-86, Reed 1-33, Colin Hager 1-17, Alex Hinkle 1-17, Jake Schroeder 1-15; Camanche, Easton McDaniel 6-83, Connor Harksen 3-48, Derek Harksen 1-14.