ANAMOSA - Knowing how important the first few series on both sides of the football would be in the 2019 season-opener against visiting Maquoketa Friday, Aug. 30, Anamosa football coach Lucas Stanton was hoping his young team would be able to come out and execute right away against a Cardinal program that gave the Raiders their lone triumph of the 2018 campaign.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
“We played like the young team that we are,” said Stanton, as his team was handed a 42-21 setback in front of a big crowd at Downing Field.
“We started more flat than I thought we would, and overall just weren’t able to execute. We had some missed early opportunities that could have made a big difference for us, but with as young as we are this wasn’t completely unexpected. We were pretty disappointed with the way we played, but these are resilient kids and they’ll come back ready to go next week and learn from what happened here.”
Anamosa (0-1) received the opening kick-off and promptly went 3-and-out without gaining a single yard offensively.
“Not the start we wanted offensively, so we needed to get a stop on defense,” Stanton said. “That didn’t happen either.”
On their second play from scrimmage, Maquoketa’s Ryne Gruenwald raced into the end zone from 63 yards out, and a huge crowd that packed the visiting stands quickly had something to cheer about.
“Last year Maquoketa was in pretty much the same situation we are this season,” Stanton said. “They had a lot of inexperienced kids playing all over the place. But this year they have most of those kids back and were just physically bigger, faster and stronger than we were. I’m confident we’ll get there, but it’s going to take some time.”
After a first quarter safety handed the Cardinals a 9-0 lead, the visitors tacked in two more touchdowns to take a 23-0 advantage before the Raider offense began to find its groove.
“Nolan got into a nice rhythm there in the second quarter and marched our offense right down the field,” said Stanton, as McLean found Trae Klatt open for a big 33-yard touchdown toss that got the hosts on the board.
“These kids like playing fast and we were able to do that on that drive. We weren’t able to get our run game going like I hoped it would, but on that scoring drive, and our next one, the kids really made some big plays.”
Maquoketa answered the Raider score with one of their own, but the hosts came back with the play of the game.
Actually, maybe one of the longest pass plays in Anamosa football history as Colton Borst hauled in a pass from McLean then ran past Maquoketa defenders on a play that covered an amazing 97 yards.
“That gave us some momentum heading into the half,” said Stanton, as his team trailed just 29-14.
“And, for a while in the second half we were able to keep Maquoketa out of the end zone. We just couldn’t get back there ourselves and put a little pressure on them though.”
The Cardinals started the second half scoring finding the end zone with 4:00 to play in the third quarter before scoring again with 4:32 to play in the final frame, pushing their lead to 42-14.
“Overall, our defense just struggled to get stops,” Stanton said. “At times we were pretty good on defense, but too many times when we had chances to get off the field, we weren’t able to and Maquoketa made us pay.”
The Raiders ended the scoring when backup quarterback Grahm Humpal completed an 11-yard touchdown toss to Sage Hoyt with just 2:19 remaining in the game.
“The field position game killed us in this one, too,” Stanton said. “We couldn’t get the field flipped and we really struggled in our special teams. That’s something that is going to have to improve as we go forward or we’re going to have a hard time this season.”
Anamosa managed 282 yards of total offense, with 224 of those coming in the passing game.
McLean completed 8-of-22 passes for 179 yards while Humpal was 3-of-4 for 45 more. Humpal’s 39 rushing yards late in the game led the Raider ground game.
Maquoketa finished with 403 total yards, 365 coming on the ground.
“A lot of teams make their biggest improvements of the season between the first and second weeks,” Stanton said. “We’re going to come back and watch film and make the adjustments we need to make and continue to work on the fundamentals. I still feel like we’re close to getting this thing going, and next week could be the start we’re looking for. I know our kids are going to be hungry, but what I want to see most is improvement. We’re a young team and I want to see us get better. I know we can.”