Slam and Bam

Golden Hawks pound Central Lee in playoff opener, face Tipton next

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 10/20/20

Running back Kayden Reinier and Mid-Prairie’s offensive line sent a message on its very first play last Friday night against Central Lee.

Reinier ran 45 yards for a first down before he was …

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Slam and Bam

Golden Hawks pound Central Lee in playoff opener, face Tipton next

Posted

Running back Kayden Reinier and Mid-Prairie’s offensive line sent a message on its very first play last Friday night against Central Lee.

Reinier ran 45 yards for a first down before he was dragged down by a Central Lee defender.

Two plays later, Reinier scored the first of his four touchdowns in a 49-7 victory, which was the Golden Hawks’ first postseason win since 2015 and sent them into a second-round game against Tipton this coming Friday in Wellman.

“Looking forward to it,” said Mid-Prairie head coach Pete Cavanagh. “I think it’ll be a smash-mouth game.”

The Golden Hawks (4-3) struck early in the first playoff game any of the Hawks had played in. After Reinier’s first touchdown 2:02 into the game gave Mid-Prairie a 7-0 lead, he scored his second touchdown with 7:26 remaining in the opening quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Mid-Prairie piled up 423 yards of offense, including 332 yards on the ground. Reinier rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries, numbers that would have been much higher if he and several other starters had actually played in the second half.

“He played well,” Cavanagh said of Reinier. “He’s doing what he has all year when he has room."

“Our offensive line, they’re playing pretty well.”

Reinier’s 17 rushing touchdowns rank No. 2 in Class 2A.

Tyler Helmuth, a junior, rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries, scoring a touchdown on a 33-yard run in the third quarter.

Returning to the lineup from an apparent three-game suspension, senior receiver Keegan Gingerich caught a 62-yard scoring pass from quarterback Vinnie Bowlin in the first minute of the second quarter. After Reinier scored two more touchdowns to put the Golden Hawks up 35-0 before halftime, the game was decided and starters such as Reinier and Bowlin watched the remainder of the contest from the sidelines.

The Golden Hawks also worked on their passing game against Central Lee, anticipating there will be more of a need for it in upcoming playoff games. Bowlin completed 4-of-9 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown before Will Cavanagh replaced him in the second half.

“We were trying to get some passing in,” Cavanagh said. “Last couple weeks, we were kind of run heavy so I just wanted to work on that a little bit.”

While the Golden Hawks dominated Central Lee offensively, senior defensive linemen Josh Wallington and Ben Meader chased Central Lee quarterback Dylan Stuecker into the ground. Stuecker, who passed for 99 yards and a touchdown, spent much of his time on the turf even after the plays in which he had enough time to throw a pass. After one hard hit in the backfield, Wallington helped Stuecker up in a moment of sportsmanship.

Central Lee (0-8) finished the game with negative rushing yardage.

“It was good to see that we limited their passing attack because they’ve got a couple of skilled kids who are pretty good,” Cavanagh said. “I just think they’re young up front so they struggle a little bit there.”

That won’t be the case this week against Tipton. Senior quarterback Payton Elijah has run for 961 yards and 13 touchdowns behind an offensive line that has helped produce 2,024 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns this season.

Both teams average more than seven yards per rushing play and both teams use a ground game more than a passing attack. In addition to Elijah, Tipton has two running backs who have combined for over 800 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I think they’re single wing, run, smash-mouth team,” Cavanagh said. “It’ll be tough. They’ve got some guys up front. They’re physical.”

The Golden Hawks have allowed just one rushing touchdown in their last two games.

M-P STAT LEADERS

Rushing: Kayden Reinier, 12 carries, 165 yards, 4 TDs; Tyler Helmuth, 10-106, 1 TD; Vinnie Bowlin, 3-22.

Passing: Bowlin, 4-of-9, 85 yards, 1 TD; Will Cavanagh, 1-of-2, 6 yards.

Receiving: Keegan Gingerich, 3 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD.

Defense: Cael Garvey, 3.5 tackles; Cain Brown, 3.5 tackles.

Next game: Friday, vs. Tipton, 7 p.m.

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