Week 7 Rewind: Solon Makes Plays Late to Stay Unbeaten

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

SOLON – Kevin Miller walked away from the postgame huddle after watching his third-ranked Solon team survive a 34-28 thriller against Mount Pleasant and let out a deep sigh.

“Wow,” Miller said as his team celebrated a seventh straight win to open the season.

The victory was the second time in six weeks the Spartans secured a win on the final play of the game.

Cam Miller scored the game-winning touchdown in a 7-0 overtime win at West Liberty in week two.

Solon couldn’t put away upset-minded Mount Pleasant (4-3) on Saturday until Jackson Pipolo deflected a pass in the end zone as time expired.

Miller could do without the drama but he’s hoping the experience of being in close games pays dividends down the road.

“These are the type of games that we didn’t have last year and this will make us better in the long run,” Miller said. “You tend to rest on your laurels when you haven’t been tested and you don’t know the things you need to work on.”

Solon won its nine regular season games by an average of nearly 38 points per game last season and didn’t play a game closer than 19 points.

In its closest game of the regular season Solon opened up a 19-0 first quarter lead in a season-opening 19-0 win over Mount Vernon.

The two late wins have shown a side that the Spartans simply hadn’t needed the past few seasons.

“We’ve shown we can grind wins out,” junior AJ Coons said. “Last year it just seemed like in the regular season we had blowouts and it wasn’t contested. This year we’ve had some tough games and I think that will benefit us in the playoffs just knowing that we can battle back being down and make plays to win games.”

Solon trailed 13-0 and later 21-7 in the first half.

Junior quarterback started the game by completing five straight passes but misfired on his next four with two interceptions including a pick-6 as Mount Pleasant built its 21-7 second-quarter lead.

Saturday marked the first second-half deficit for Solon since falling behind 35-0 in a loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier in the 3A semifinals last season.

“We really haven’t been down in a game since the semifinals last year,” Cam Miller said. “I think having these tests early in the season is big. Having games like this and the West Liberty game hopefully it helps us a lot in the playoffs.”

Miller responded by completing 11 of his final 14 passes after the pick-6 for 209 yards and three touchdowns, all going to Coons.

The junior duo hooked up for scoring strikes of 58, 35 and 46 yards.

“After the pick 6 it was really one of his better games in all honestly,” Kevin Miller said. “He forced that throw and they were sitting on that but we felt that we could go over the top because they were settling on that quick out and some of our underneath stuff so we took some shots over the top and we capitalized.”

Solon closes out the regular season with a trip to Keokuk (1-6) and a home matchup with Fairfield (4-3).

Weather Woes: The biggest story of week seven was mother nature.

Thunderstorms across the state wreaked havoc on the Friday night schedule causing three area games to be called with time still on the clock and two more to be pushed to Saturday.

West Branch had its game at Northeast called late in the first quarter, Clear Creek Amana and Davenport Assumption ended with a little less than nine minutes to play and Central DeWitt and Liberty High ended their game at halftime.

Solon and Mount Pleasant failed to kickoff on Friday night and played their game at 11 a.m. on Saturday while City High and Pleasant Valley completed a game that was delayed in the second quarter on Friday late at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Record Setters: It’s tough to set a school record in a game that is called after less than a quarter.

West Branch accomplished that feat on Friday setting a school record for total offense allowing by holding Northeast to -46 yards in a 28-0 win that was called by weather with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.

The Bears had eight tackles for loss including two sacks on 15 Northeast offensive plays.

Unbeatens: The list of undefeated teams in Iowa is down to 23 and two of those without a notch in the loss column are from the Your Prep Sports Area.

Clear Creek Amana and Solon are both 7-0 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Solon and Clear Creek Amana account for half of the unbeaten teams in Class 3A joining top-ranked defending state champion Cedar Rapids Xavier and Council Bluffs Lewis Central

Trojan Encore: West High set a school record holding Linn-Mar to one yard of total offense in a 41-7 week-six win.

The Trojans were even more impressive on Thursday.

West High held Davenport North to 84 total yards while posting its first shutout of the season in a 35-0 win over District 4 leaders.  

The Trojans had a season-high five sacks and scored their fourth defensive touchdown of the season when senior defensive tackle Landon Green returned a fumble 20 yards for a score.

Offensive Performer of the week: AJ Coons has had big games before during his prep career.

None bigger than his performance on Saturday in a 34-28 win over Mount Pleasant.

Coons had 10 receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns as Solon rallied from 14-points down to improve to 7-0.

The 6-foot-3 Coons had touchdown catches of 58, 35 and 46 yards on Saturday and has 38 receptions for 591 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

Best of the rest: City High senior receiver Malik Kimber caught five passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-21 loss to Pleasant Valley

Clear Creek Amana senior quarterback Andrew Rohret rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns and completed 7-of-12 passes for 60 yards in a 17-7 win over Davenport Assumption.

Regina senior Kieler Brown ran for 97 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and caught two passes for 19 yards in a 35-12 win at North Linn.

Defensive performer of the week: The West High defense has had a lot of good performances during its current five-game winning streak.

Thursday’s shutout of Davenport North may have been the Trojan’s best defensive effort yet and Halverson was a big reason why.

The senior defensive end tied for the team lead with four tackles including 3.5 for loss and two sacks in a 35-0 West High win.

Best of the rest: Regina senior linebacker Scott Blondin had a team-high six tackles, a sack and recovered a fumble in a 35-12 win over North Linn.

West Branch junior defensive lineman Dalyn Pedersen had 3.5 tackles including two for loss and a sack in a 28-0 win over Northeast.

Liberty High sophomore linebacker Max Tafolla had a team-high 10 tackles in a 35-0 loss to Central DeWitt.