Oct 16

Despite Loss, “Hardest Cats Have Played All Year” Says Thomas

By: Nathan Bloechl — nathanb@977thebolt.com

Humboldt, Iowa — The game of football — no sports, in general — can be excruciatingly difficult at times. For all of the highs, it’s the lows that stick with you.

Mince no words, Humboldt did not win Friday evening against the bigger, faster and stronger Sioux City Bishop Heelan last Friday, but at the end of the game, you wouldn’t have been so sure which team is 2-6 and the other 6-2.

Humboldt — for the first time in weeks — battled their absolute tail off for four quarters, yet came up short, 22-7 at Mason Maach Field Friday evening.

If there’s ever a silver lining in losing the Cats can use this game as one.

Undermanned and overwhelmed at times, the Wildcats cobbled together stop after stop defensively against one of the state’s premier backs in Heelan senior Saybein Clark.

Clark, who has committed to North Dakota State, ran for 221 yards on 34 carries but never really seemed tottaly comfortable, despite the yardage totals.

“He’s a talented kid, really a great runner” Greg Thomas said post-game.

“I told [Heelan’s] coach, I’m happy to see “SR.” behind his name in the program, I don’t want to face him anymore” Thomas explained.

Clark got the scoring started in the first quarter punching in a 2-yard plunge to give the Crusaders an early 7-0 lead. That lead would grow to 14, after Clark jitterbugged his way to score number two, giving Heelan a 14-0, second quarter lead.

However, Humboldt would answer with a drive of their own before the half would close, which was capped off by Tyler Vitzhum’s second touchdown of the season.

Vitzhum ran just as well as Clark Friday evening, rushing 19 times for 126 yards and the score. It was just the the third 100-yard rusher that Heelan has allowed this year.

Unfortunately outside of Vitzhum, Humboldt’s offensive attack was meager.

Junior quarterback Joey Busse completed just 8-of-24 passes for 47 yards, a paltry 1.96 yards per attempt. To his credit, Busse did deliver some accurate balls that were dropped. Other times, open receivers were missed.

The game stagnated in the third quarter with no scoring but heated up late in the fourth after Humboldt forced not one, but two Heelan turnovers giving the offense multiple chances to tie the game.

Heelan’s defense stiffened against the run and Humboldt could not get the pass game working.

After turning the ball over on downs, Heelan would throw a late touchdown pass and secured the two-point conversion to capture the 22-7 win.

The Crusaders needed the points to help position themselves for a potential wild-card berth into the 3A state playoffs.

“That wasn’t in bad taste” Greg Thomas explained. “[Heelan’s] coach is trying to put their kids in the best position to succeed. They need all the points they can get to hopefully make the playoffs.”

Humboldt will have one more crack to get into the win column again as they will play host to LeMars on Friday at Mason Maach Field. It will be Senior Night.

Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. with pre-game beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the Bolt.