Postseason mentality helps Trojans blast Bison

BLAIRSBURG – A trip to the Class 8-man state playoffs looks more and more like a distinct possibility with each passing week for the Northeast Hamilton football team.

The Trojans (4-2, 2-2) feel like they’re already there.

“Every game is a playoff game and that’s exactly the way we’re going to continue to approach it,” Northeast Hamilton head coach John Seiser said after his team dismantled District 2 rival North Iowa, 46-12, on Friday. “We just have a lot of confidence right now and fundamentally these kids are just doing great things.”

Northeast Hamilton’s second straight lopsided victory continued to amaze Seiser, who felt the size of the Bison would give the Trojans problems.

But that never came to fruition.

“They’re a really big and physical team, but our kids just played exceptionally well and they were physical as heck,” he said. “I’m just a little shocked because it’s so different this year from last year.”

Senior tailback Tyler Smith continued to prove he’s one of the most valuable players in the state, as he added another 255 yards of offense and four touchdowns. He rushed for 237 yards and three scores on 32 totes and also hauled in an 18-yard TD pass from quarterback Logan Seiser.

Smith’s big night pushed him over 1,000 ground yards on the season; he now sits with 1,198 and 16 TDs. His 1,417 yards of total offense puts him among the state’s leaders.

“Tyler is just so much shiftier this year than he was last year,” John Seiser said. “The big thing this year is he’s finishing his runs and not really taking a lot of hits. He’s just making good decisions with the ball.”

North Iowa (3-3, 1-3) scored the first points of the game on a 55-yard touchdown toss from Spencer Armstrong to Derek Yegge on the opening drive, but the Trojans responded with 24 consecutive points to take command for good.

NEH turned the clash into a blowout with 22 straight points in the second half.

Logan Seiser completed 4 of 6 passes for 37 yards and two scores. His 5-yard TD toss to Nick Jeffers in the first quarter knotted the game and later in the period he found Smith for the go-ahead TD.

Smith extended the Trojans’ lead to 24-6 early in the second quarter on a 6-yard sprint to the end zone.

North Iowa trimmed its deficit to 24-12 at the intermission, but it took less than 2 minutes into the third period for Smith to turn the tide again with a 16-yard jaunt to paydirt.

Trojans’ fullback Gabe Rapp added a 2-yard touchdown rumble to extend the margin to 38-12 late in the third and then forced a safety midway through the fourth quarter.

Kyler Rapp punctuated the outcome with a score from 2 yards out later in the fourth.

NEH piled up 451 yards of total offense, 414 coming on the ground. The Trojans averaged 7.5 yards per carry and controlled the clock with 55 carries in all.

John Seiser gave a sizable dose of the credit to the stalwarts on the offensive line – Andy Pate, Bryce Van Langen and Tristin Knudsen.

“We wanted to show them that we could run the ball on them and the linemen did a great job,” he said. “Last year we didn’t have the same starting lineup in two games, but this year those guys have started every game on the line.”

Kyler Rapp accounted for 69 of the yards rushing and older brother Gabe accrued 57 yards. They combined to carry the ball 16 times to give Smith a breather.

The early touchdown scored by the Bison didn’t sit well with John Seiser, but only briefly. Otherwise he said his defense was in top form.

“Other than that one big play we pretty much dominated them the whole night,” he said. “The way we’re executing on offense has been a surprise, but our defense is probably an even bigger surprise.”

Gabe Rapp dropped the Bison for five solo tackles and he got in on 17 total stops. Jeffers and Logan Seiser both had four solo tackles, Gunther Range picked up three and Pate had two. Pate also sacked Armstrong once and recovered a fumble.

NEH will be on the road against Laurens-Marathon (3-3, 2-2) on Friday and a win would almost guarantee the Trojans entrance into the postseason.