GRAHAM, Mo. – South Holt/Nodaway-Holt seemed to have built some momentum going into last Friday’s matchup with defending state champion, Mound City. The Spartans had won three in a row after a brutal three-game stretch to begin the season. Instead, the Spartans played one of their worst games of the season in a 46-0 loss. This week, South Holt/Nodaway-Holt will face the Rock Port Blue Jays who are 4-3 this season but are coming off a 50-point loss to Southwest.
The Spartans dropped to 3-4 after their loss to the Panthers last Friday. Offensively, this is one of the more balanced attacks that SHNH has had under Petersen. The offense is averaging 127 yards passing per game and 184 rushing yards.
Leading the way is one of the better athletes in the state in quarterback Drew Quinlin. Though he is not putting up the same numbers he was a year ago, the junior quarterback has passed for 913 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Quinlin has also been the team’s best rusher, averaging 105 yards per game with four 100-yard performances. Overall Quinlin has rushed the ball 97 times for 737 yards and 13 touchdowns. Second on the team in rushing is junior running back Houston Coleman. In his first year as a starter, Coleman has rushed the ball 72 times for 300 yards and six touchdowns.
The Spartans offense took a hit losing their top-two wide receivers to graduation a year ago and that has hampered their passing game through seven weeks. Dylan Schuetz leads the team in receptions with 20 for 389 yards and nine touchdowns. Coleman is second on the team with 13 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown.
After allowing 80, 66 and 62 points in their first three weeks, the South Holt/Nodaway-Holt defense seemed to have turn the corner. The defense had allowed an average of just 18 points per game during their winning streak before allowing 46 to Mound City.
Quinlin has been the Spartans’ best tackler through seven weeks, leading the team with 51 tackles. Tristan Steinert has been one of the more productive pass rushers in the area with six sacks this season. SHNH has 14 sacks as a team and has forced 11 turnovers in 2019.
Rock Port’s season has been very similar to that of South Holt/Nodaway-Holt. The Blue Jays have defeated the teams that they were supposed to, while struggling with those in the upper echelon.
The Blue Jays began the season with a six-point loss to DeKalb. Rock Port then won three in a row over Platte Valley, Stewartsville and North Nodaway. Their streak ended with a 46-point loss to East Atchison.
Rock Port rebounded with a 36-16 win on the road in King City on Oct. 4. The biggest difference in the two team’s schedule is the results of their matchups with Southwest. The Spartans lost by four points while scoring 62. The Blue Jays lost 62-12 at home against that same Southwest team.
Rock Port has no intentions of passing the ball, averaging just 43 yards passing per game. The Blue Jays love to run the football. As a team, Rock Port averages 227 rushing yards per game.
They are led by junior running back Joey Herron. One of the better backs in 8-man, Herron has carried the ball 137 times for 1,254 yards and 15 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Colten Stevens will also be a part of the mix as he is second on the team with 69 carries for 248 yards.
Rock Port doesn’t get much from their quarterback position. Alex Burke has thrown just 38 passes for 169 yards and has carried the ball 44 times for negative 54 yards.
The Blue Jays’ defense has allowed 38 points per game this season. The defense has hadn’t much luck in rushing the passer with just seven sacks this season.
Rock Port has done a decent job of turning teams over, averaging just under two turnovers per game. Senior Game Minter leads the team with two interceptions this season. Stevens is the teams leading tackler with 44 through seven games.
Friday night will be important for both teams if they hope to finish the season with a .500 or better record. A win will get the Spartans back to that number and they finish the season against a North Nodaway team with just one win. Rock Port sits at one game above .500, but they finish the season against Mound City.
The Blue Jays defeated the Spartans 40-12 last season, but South Holt/Nodaway-Holt was without Quinlin who missed the contest with a concussion suffered the week before.