The 2010s were largely forgettable for Kingsland football. The last two years they have re-emerged to competitiveness under maybe their most known football player ever, Matt Kolling (the top RB on their 1995 state title team). This year there are thus higher expectations. The Knights return as many All-District players as any other team in the South-East. And a season-opening game with a scrappy Mabel-Canton squad, one that went 7-3 last year and returns three A-D players also, pitted two teams with 1,000-yard rushers from last season in seniors Beau Wiersma and Cayden Tollefsrud. It was key season-opening contest. The stars did not disappoint, but the home Knight faithful was quiet through almost two quarters of action. The Cougars came out and scored the game’s first 22 points. Sophomore QB Isaac Underbakke threw three first half TD passes, including strikes of 25 yards and 10-yards to Tollefsrud and Darian Hershberger. Tyler Larson also authored a 2-yard TD run. With 4:40 left in the second quarter, M-C led 22-0. But that’s when Wiersma rolled. His next four carries went for 24, 56, 11, and 37 yards. The two longest ones both found paydirt. Aided by a fumble recovery on a kick-off, which got the Knights the ball back right after scoring, and Kingsland quickly pulled with one score at down 22-16 with 3:22 left in the first half. But M-C ended the stanza marching 75 yards in 12 plays. A 21-yard Underbakke to Tollefsrud TD pass sent the Cougars to the half up 28-16. But Wiersma-mania again ran wild to start the second half, ripping off a 60-yard TD run on the first offensive play. Kaaleem Reiland’s conversion made it 28-24 M-C. The Cougars replied with their third nine-plus-play TD drive. After converting a 4th and 25 from the Knight 26 via an Underbakke to Tollefsrud 25-yard pass, and after going backward on the goal-line, Larson scored on an 8-yard TD run to again put M-C up two scores, 34-24. But Wiersma opened the following Knight drive with a 42-yard run to the M-C 23. He got helped to the sideline per cramping, but his teammates covered for him. A couple plays later, Ayden Howard’s 10-yard end-around TD-run (plus Reiland to Parker Johnson conversion pass) again pulled the Knights close at 34-32. Howard then made the game’s key momentum shifting play, intercepting Underbakke. Like in the first half, it allowed the Knights the opportunity to play catch up, to score back-to-back. Wiersma did the honors, ripping off another chunk TD-run, a 35-yarder. With a Reiland conversion, with 0:15 to go in the third, Kingsland had its first lead at 40-34. It looked like the fourth quarter would be wild, but after nine total TDs across the second and third quarters, the fourth was scoreless. M-C had a 13-play drive come up empty on downs at the Knight 31. They took over with 2:20 left, but could not get a first down. Rallying from down 22-0, Kingsland posted its biggest win in a decade-plus via a 40-34 victory. Wiersma(mania) ran for 344 yards and 4 TDs on just 17 carries. Reiland (13-50, three conversion runs) and Howard (4-22, TD rushing, defensive interception) were his best help. Johnson and Sam Howard had sacks. Courtland Drury-DeBoer recovered a fumble. Tollefsrud led M-C by topping 100 yards both rushing and receiving (30-116 rushing, 7-130, 2 TDs receiving). Underbakke threw three TD passes (10 of 20, 175 yards, 3 TDs, INT passing). Larson (19-82 rushing) scored the Cougars’ two rushing TDs. M-C ended up with 22 first downs to Kingsland’s 13, but Wiersma had seven runs of 20-plus yards. The Cougars losing the turnover battle 2:1 was also key. After a 236-yard effort in the first half, M-C was held to about half of that in the second half, 121 yards. Kingsland (1-0, 1-0) meanwhile had 206 yards in the first half and 215 yards in the second, winning total yards 421 to 357. It was the season-opener for both teams. M-C (0-1, 0-1) won the previous two games, hard-fought battles 30-28 last year on a late game safety, and 28-14 in 2021.
About Paul Trende