No. 1 RSM beats GTRA to return to UNI-Dome for fourth straight year
REMSEN — As a group of eight Remsen St. Mary’s senior players made a final walk from one end zone to the other, it marked the culmination of quite the legacy the players built on their home field.
With a 63-14 win over Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire in an 8-player state quarterfinal round game Thursday, the senior class completed a perfect home record throughout their careers. In fact, the senior class has never experienced a loss anywhere except inside the UNI-Dome, where they will make their fourth straight appearance on Wednesday.
“They really wanted this thing. They wanted to end their careers the right way,” RSM Head Coach Tim Osterman said. “To go undefeated on this field for four years for a senior class is impressive. Kudos to our seniors. This is their moment. This is our team’s moment. I’m glad to be their coach.”
The top-ranked team in the 8-player class took control of the game not quite halfway through the opening quarter as they scored 20 points in the span of 24 seconds.
“It was an awesome sequence of three plays to get the game started,” Osterman said. “You probably can’t find that very often.”
Cael Ortmann connected with Jaxon Bunkers on a 13-yard pass play for a touchdown at the 7:41 mark as the Hawks took a 6-0 lead with the 2-point conversion attempt being unsuccessful.
RSM then caught the Titans off-guard with an onside kick which was recovered by the Hawks. On the first play of the drive, Ortmann found Ryan Willman open for a touchdown. RSM took a 14-0 lead at the 7:31 mark as they converted the 2-point try on an option pitch to Brenden Fisch.
A touchback gave GTRA the ball at their own 15-yard line and on their first play of the drive, Alex Schroeder intercepted a pass from Max Hough and returned it for a touchdown, leading to a 20-0 lead at the 7:17 mark after the missed PAT kick which had to be pushed back due to a false start penalty.
Schroeder said the defensive touchdown to cap off the scoring spurt of 20 points in 24 seconds was huge for the momentum of the game and explained how the play unfolded.
“I just saw the quarterback and his motion and I knew it was coming my way so I just read the ball and made a good play on it,” Schroeder said.
GTRA worked down the field on their next drive before Ortmann got the team’s second interception against the GTRA quarterback. Schroeder, who snagged the first pick, said the defense was keying in on Hough as he entered the game with over 2,000 rushing yards and over 1,300 passing yards.
“The coaches had a good game plan for us. They made sure we were ready for their quarterback,” Schroeder said. “He was a lot of their team.”
The Hawks got the ball down to the 1-yard line by the end of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Bunkers ran the ball in a wildcat formation and dove across the goal line for the touchdown. A 2-point conversion pass to Willman made it 28-0.
The Titans were finally able to put together a sustained drive without turning the ball over as they capped off a 50-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring pass from Hough to Jordan Saul. GTRA failed on their 2-point conversion attempt.
RSM added two more touchdowns before the end of the first half to reach the 35-point running clock differential.
An 18-yard touchdown pass to Willman followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Schroeder made it 36-6. With 5.6 seconds left before halftime, the Hawks scored again on a fourth down play as Bunkers hauled in a 12-yard reception.
The touchdown pass was the last of four for Ortmann in the win.
“We’ve got great receivers with Jaxon, Ryan, Brenden and Alex, all of them were getting open,” Ortmann said. “The coaches had a great game plan for their zones, for their man, for all of their defenses and they just told me where to throw it and I just threw it there.”
The halftime score stood at 42-6 after the failed 2-point conversion.
RSM added one scoring play in the third quarter, a 14-yard rush from Schroeder.
“All of the credit goes to the offensive line,” Schroeder said. “They made big holes and we were just able to hit them.”
The team took a 50 point lead as they went to some of their younger players with sophomore quarterback Landon Waldschmitt running for a 17-yard score.
GTRA added one more touchdown on their side of the scoreboard with a 35-yard pass play to Drew Schnell followed by a pass to Kory Hough for the 2-point conversion.
On the first play of RSM’s next drive, Brady Koenck broke free for a 50-yard scoring run as the Hawks capped off their 63-14 win.
GTRA finishes the season with a 9-2 record.
Remsen St. Mary’s takes an 11-0 record into their state semifinal game against Lenox (11-0).
“We just know that we’ve got to go 1-0 and win this game, get to the championship and win that game hopefully,” Ortmann said. “We’ve just got to take one game at a time, not look ahead.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m., Wednesday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.