MINONK – Any wrestling coaches getting a head start on scouting for the Class 1A tournament have a tough decision to make:
Do you watch the film of Newman’s 41-0 rout of Fieldcrest on Saturday in the opening round of the 2A football playoffs?
It would behoove said coaches to get a better grip on Jake Snow’s mind-numbing balance and center of gravity. But watching the Knights’ utter inability to grip the Newman senior would make the most confident grappler a bit uneasy.
With Newman (9-1) up 8-0 on Dillan Heffelfinger’s 1-yard plunge and 2-point run, Snow scored from 15 yards out with 7:18 left in the first half. But it’s how he got there that defied logic.
Sweeping left, the 5-foot-5, 155-pound back was sandwiched by Colton Pettit, a 5-foot-9 linebacker, and 4-year starting lineman Dakota Park, who checks in at 5-11, 240.
It appeared Snow was bound for the grass but, at the last second, exploded out of both Knights’ grips, back to his feet and sauntered into the end zone. The look on both Knights’ faces could only be described as utter disbelief.
“Wrestling does a lot of it,” said Snow, a senior who won a state wrestling title at 112 pounds as a freshman. “You need to have that balance. Wrestling is all about being shifty and staying low. When you come into big piles, you need to lower your center of gravity so you can break some of those tackles.”
Did somebody say piles? Snow left a mound of Knights (8-2) in his wake on the third play of the fourth quarter. Again sweeping left, Snow was swarmed by five Knights. About three Mississippi’s later, he emerged and ran untouched the rest of the way for a 50-yard score that capped a 14-carry, 133-yard performance.
“That pile was a lot of work,” Snow said to Newman Meteors coach Jube Manzano on the sideline afterward.
What exactly happened in there?
“I don’t know,” Snow said. “Mac [Olson] and Dillan [Heffelfinger] went through and hit their guys, a few people got in there. You just kind of started jumping and pushing people.”
“Unbelievable, isn’t he?” Newman coach Mike Papoccia said. “He was in that last pile, and I said to Andy Accardi, ‘He’s gonna come out of there.’ All of a sudden, there he goes.
“He has a run like that every game.”
When Brady Rude left with a right ankle injury on the first Newman drive of the second half, Olson filled in nicely with runs of 13 and 6, the latter putting him in the end zone and putting Newman up 27-0 after Brandon Ahlgrim kicked one of his three extra points.
Heffelfinger added a 1-yard score on a toss left on fourth-and-goal with 37.3 seconds left in the third. Snow’s 50-yard run made it 41-0 less than 2 minutes later.
Newman racked up 257 yards on 48 carries, and its defense held Fieldcrest to 36 yards, 18 of them rushing and 18 of them passing.
“Our defense dug their feet in the trenches and held their ground for a while,” Fieldcrest coach Nate Lorton said. “But we just spent too much time on the field as a defense. It wore our guys out, and that’s what the playoffs are about.”
A.J. Sharp was 4-for-8 for the Comets, including a belated birthday gift to Shayne Allen.
On third-and-6 at the Fieldcrest 24, Sharp lofted a ball into Allen’s hip pocket on a post flag, the 6-2 junior hauling it in at the goal line before leaping and pumping his fist.
The Newman defense was dominant. Snow was pleased with the offense drawing first blood and giving the “D” an emotional boost.
“This was a little different today,” Snow said. “The offense started, and we haven’t done that this whole year. I think this time it was us getting them going.”
For more on that, see page FB7.