Lone Tree Lions rush all over the Midland Eagles

By TJ Rhodes
Posted 9/13/23

Lone Tree could not have had a worse start. Receiving the opening kick led to an immediate Midland interception.

The Lions were not down for the count. Instead, they rose to the occasion.

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Lone Tree Lions rush all over the Midland Eagles


Lone Tree could not have had a worse start. Receiving the opening kick led to an immediate Midland interception.

The Lions were not down for the count. Instead, they rose to the occasion.

They forced a turnover on downs before senior quarterback Ethan Bockelman took off for a 58-yard touchdown.

The Lions would not look back, winning 49-30 and improving to 2-1.

“The way we performed [against Iowa Valley], we weren’t real happy. It’s been a couple of weeks of hard work, kids growing up. We just felt like we had to move forward in the program, and we just put them through some tough workouts the last couple of weeks,” head coach Joe Donovan said.

“[We worked on] conditioning and trying to get our mental stability there and I thought the kids performed tonight. I thought it paid off.”

That 58-yard touchdown was only the beginning for Lone Tree, scoring 22 total points in the first quarter, their most explosive quarter of the year.

First, Midland would answer with a one-play touchdown drive after almost returning the kickoff for points.

It was a rushing touchdown by Midland quarterback Anthony Harrington who had a good game despite the loss with 177 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

A successful two-point conversion gave Midland their only lead of the night, briefly up 8-6.

Lone Tree answered immediately with a Maddox Jondle touchdown run just 43 seconds after Midland took the lead. A successful two pointer made it a six-point game.

Lone Tree’s next drive would showcase one of their strong suits on the night: a strong play on third-down. On a third and 10, Jondle rushed for a 12-yard gain. This was a theme throughout the night.

“[Third downs] kind of tell you the tale of the game. If you can convert third downs to first downs, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Donovan said.  “I just tell them, listen, make sure we got good splits, make sure you’re solid in what you’re doing and now we just got to grind, we got to block like this is the last play of  the game and they did so. [I am] pleased with the effort.”

After Lone Tree knew they established their run game, they started to line up in the I formation, rushing the ball down the throat of Midland who could not stop the combo of Bockelman and Jondle.

“I was most pleased with our [offensive] line. I just felt like tonight, we looked stronger,” Donovan said. “We played with more passion and fight in us and that’s what pleases me. It’s not the winning and losing, it’s how you win and lose. Tonight, is an effort that you can live with.”

On their next series, Jondle would convert another third down on the ground before Bockelman completed a touchdown pass to senior Dominic Graap for the late first quarter touchdown.

Jondle would convert the two-point play on the ground, giving Lone Tree the 22-8 lead to close out the first quarter.

After forcing a three and out, Lone Tree yet again came up big on the first third down of the second quarter.

Bockelman completed a pass in the middle of the field to sophomore Emmett Burke who piled up the yards after catch (YAC) for a big play on third down.

This would lead to a touchdown catch by sophomore Domonic Garcia from Bockelman with the PAT getting blocked for a 28-8 Lone Tree lead.

The Lions second possession in the second quarter saw them backed up inside their own 10. A gutsy decision by the players on the field resulted in a fourth down conversion with a fake punt by Burke.

The play was not inspired by, but correlated with an NFL decision by the Detroit Lions when they faked a punt on their own side of the field for a big fourth down conversion against the Kansas City Chiefs on opening night of the NFL, just a night before Lone Tree’s game.

“We have confidence in [Emmett Burke] back there. It doesn’t surprise me that we have that option with our punt,” Donovan said. “It doesn’t always work, but that’s how you learn.”

The Lions eventually punted for real on that drive.

Going into halftime, the Lions held a 28-16 lead. A Jondle fumble before half gave the Eagles a chance to score again, but tight end zone defense kept the Eagles from scoring.

Midland received the second half kick and marched for a methodical touchdown drive that ate up nearly five minutes.

Midland’s second half adjustment seemed to be a more methodical approach to offense, valuing the short plays and YAC rather than going for it all each play.

After a 53-yard touchdown run by Jondle nearly untouched, it seemed the Lions locked up the decisive 49-22 victory.

But the ensuing kickoff gave Midland one more spark. They returned it for a touchdown and hit the two-pointer to bring them within 19 points with 3:14 remaining.

Lone Tree would run out most of the clock after the Midland kickoff went out of bounds, winning 49-30 in what was a more dominating performance than what the score suggests.

Lone Tree will play their next game on the road against Springville on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.


Midland – 8 – 8 – 6 – 8 – 30

Lone Tree – 22 – 6 – 8 – 13 -- 49

Lone Tree, Lions, High School, Football. Midland Eagles, Iowa.