In the game of 8-Man football, a couple of key injuries and a bye week can turn a number 2 rated football team into a highly vulnerable unit in a heartbeat. 3rd quarter injuries to Kenesaw's starting quarterback Tyler Schnitzler and his freshman brother Preston, turned a whale of a Class D-2 8-Man match-up into a runaway for the Giltner Friday on the Hornets home field. Trailing only 30-17 at halftime, Kenesaw's outstanding all-state Tyler Schnitzler went down returning a kick-off and had to leave the field for one play. Substitute sophomore quarterback Isaiah McChesney entered, bobbled the snap at the Blue Devil 12 yard line and Giltner recovered. It then took only 2 plays for shifty Hornet QB Jake Findley to score on a 10 yard sweep and the momentum switch was on for good.
Earlier in the quarter, hard running, big hearted freshman Preston Schnitzler left the game in a daze after taking a vicious hit tackling rugged 200 pound Trevor Poppen on a sideline play. It was a head on collision but when a 165 pound lad who doesn't even have a driver's license meets a 200 pound senior bulldozer, you know who is going to lose. Young Schnitzler never did return and a possible concussion is my educated guess. A bushel basket full of cramps by the Kenesaw team that led to converted points by Giltner didn't help matters either. The open week looked to have played a major role in the physical condition of the Kenesaw players.
The combination of injuries, cramps and an opportunistic, talented Giltner offense led to a 30 point, 3rd quarter explosion by number one Giltner as the Hornets coasted to a 59-17 win in the highly anticipated clash between Class D-2's top two teams. (Lincoln Journal Star)
The game opened with shining display of the rushing talents of the Schnitzler brothers and the crisp blocking of Blue Devil senior lineman, Mason Stocker and Dalton Bender. Kenesaw took the opening kick-off and fashioned a 65 yard, 7 play scoring drive culminated by Preston Schnitzler's 10 yard touchdown run around the left side. Richard Sonneck booted the point through and staked the visitors to a 7-0 lead. After Tyler Schnitzler sailed the ensuing kick-off through the end zone, it took only one play and 12 seconds for Giltner's Max Hawthorne to gallop 65 yard for the answering touchdown after catching a short pass from Findley. Findley ran in the point after and the Hornets had the 8-7 lead. Four and a half minutes later, the sharpshooting Findley found a streaking Garrett Poppen on a crossing pattern for a 37 yard TD strike for a 16-7 advantage. But on the next series, Kenesaw turned to the running Schnitzler brothers again, and drove 65 yards on 10 plays for the score. Preston Schnitzler did the honors once again on a 3 yard touchdown run and the Blue Devils closed the gap to 16-14 at the end of 1 quarter of play.
Giltner answered right back with a Jake Findley 1 yard score, but Kenesaw narrowed the gap to 22-17 at halftime when Sonneck kicked a line drive, knuckle baller field goal through uprights from 32 yards out with only 5 seconds left.
To illustrate how important Tyler and Preston Schnitzler are to this Kenesaw football squad, check out these halftime rushing statistics. The 165 pound freshman, Preston toted the ball an incredible 24 times for 89 yards. Quarterback Tyler ripped through the stout Giltner defense for 157 yards on 17 carries. The Blue Devils had amassed 254 yards on the ground by the half and were very much in the old ball game, but also by that time, the precision passing Jake Findley had nearly half of his 448 total passing yards for the night, completing short, floating throws that the talented duo of Dustin Hastings and Max Hawthorne turned into long gainers.
Kenesaw put together a nice 10 play drive on their opening 3rd quarter drive, aided by a fake punt by Tyler Schnitzler on the Kenesaw 39 yard line. Giltner held on a 4th down try by the Devils and quickly took it down field, scoring on a Jake Findley 5 yard run to make it 30-17, Hornets. The Tyler Schnitzler cramp injury occurred on the ensuing kick-off, then the botched snap/lost fumble by McChensey and the subsequent score by Findley. By that time, Preston Schnitzler was already out of the game and Giltner put 2 more scores on the board to seal the deal as more Kenesaw players suffered from cramping. Within a span of one minute, Jake Findley fired scoring strikes of 68 yards to Dustin Hastings and 29 yards to Dylan Hinrichs....the score after three stood at 52-17, Giltner.
The Hornets added an 8 yard touchdown run by reserve sophomore quarterback Jared Hastings to make the final 59-17 count. It was a dazzling night for senior quarterback Jake Findley, who completed 23 of 29 passes for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns. The fleet footed Max Hawthorne grabbed 12 of those passes for 190 yards and score. Justin Hastings had 4 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Schnitzler led Kenesaw with 179 yards on 21 carries, while freshman Preston Schnitzler gained 95 yards on 29 carries in a little over 2 quarters of work.
Giltner, now 3-0, will venture to Grand Island next Friday to meet winless Heartland Lutheran, while 2-1 Kenesaw will try to regroup at home as they face an improving Lawrence-Nelson team.