STATE CENTER - Every so often, the echo of a passing train carries over the football field at West Marshall High School.
Teams visiting the field might just contend the sound never ceases.
The Class 2A No. 2 Trojans rolled right through North Polk, 42-6, Friday night for a Homecoming victory and a little taste of revenge.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
West Marshall senior Dalton Ferch (23) spins out of the tackle attempt of North Polk’s Kyle Stillmunkes and Noah Pickard on a 10-yard touchdown run on Friday. The second-ranked Trojans were a 42-6 winner over the visiting Comets in State Center. The Homecoming victory moves West Marshall to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 2A District 7 play.
After a scoreless first quarter, West Marshall (5-0, 3-0) went full-steam ahead, putting 42 straight points on the board before surrendering a touchdown to the Comets (3-2, 1-2) late in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided for some time.
The win gives the Trojans some satisfaction against North Polk after the Comets ended their season in the playoffs a year ago in a 21-0 contest.
"On Homecoming, (against) North Polk, that ended our season, it feels awesome," said senior running back Tanner Stalzer.
The engine of the Trojan attack this night was an offensive line that had question marks surrounding it entering the season.
The answer to those queries resides in the 284 rushing yards the big men up front paved the way for.
"We've had trouble doing that against (North Polk) the last couple years," said head coach Ken Winkler, "but I thought our offensive line played, for the most part, their best game of the year.
"They did a great job."
Their impact on the game came in more ways than just carving running lanes.
Up 14-0 with less than a minute remaining in the first half, the Trojans called and executed to perfection a screen pass to Stalzer, who followed his blockers and showed some elusiveness as he went 39 yards for a touchdown.
"I can't really outrun 11 guys by myself - I'm not very fast - so the linemen got down the field," said Stalzer. "They blocked all the way down the field and I just tried to make a couple people miss and get in there."
Stalzer kept the Comet defense honest against keying on all-state running back Dalton Ferch by rushing for 49 yards on the night as well.
"He had a good night. He's a hard-nosed kid," Winkler said of Stalzer.
After intermission, the typically quick-strike Trojan offense put together back-to-back scoring drives that needed eight and 10 plays respectively before finding paydirt, allowing them to take a 35-0 lead into the final frame.
"The big plays are fun, they're exciting and you get on the board quick and take suspense out of it," said Winkler, "but time-consuming drives makes it a lot easier on your defense.
"We had several of those tonight."
The defense used that extra rest to hold North Polk, which received votes in this week's Associated Press rankings, to 150 yards of total offense on the night. Seventy of those yards came late in the fourth quarter on the Comets' only scoring drive which was capped by a 27-yard pass from Ryan Nichols to Lucas Hadaway.
West Marshall becomes the first defense to hold North Polk's Noah Pickard under 100 yards on the season, limiting the senior to only 33 yards on 12 carries.
"I thought our defense was outstanding," noted Winkler.
Trojan quarterback Braydn Beals was 6-of-8 passing for 144 yards and a touchdown. The senior also rushed for 66 yards and a score.
Ferch finished with 103 yards and three touchdowns on the night as the main recipient of the improved blocking.
"With backs like Dalton, just give him a little hole for two seconds, he's in it and he's gone," said senior lineman Michael Newton.
"We might not have the biggest (offensive line), but we're definitely one of the fastest."
Tysen Streeter rushed for 39 yards and a touchdown for West Marshall, which now believes it can count on its front five as a strength going ahead in District 7 play, which still features an Oct. 7 showdown with No. 3 St. Edmond in State Center.
"Somewhere along the line, you grow up a little bit," said Winkler, "and I think we took a big step forward tonight."
The next step is a road trip to Maxwell to take on CMB next week for the Trojans.