BLAIRSBURG - Tyler Smith conjured up images of his predecessor Marcus Mechaelsen in his first start in charge of the Northeast Hamilton offense here Friday night.
For 48 minutes - from the opening kick to the final buzzer - he was unstoppable.
And that made for a carefree evening on the Trojan sideline.
DFJ photo by Tracy Runneberg
Northeast Hamilton running back Tyler Smith (22) gets to the outside for a 10-yard gain during the first quarter of Friday’s 44-8 win over Ankeny Christian.
Smith rushed for three first-quarter touchdowns, had another in the second and yet another in the third, and he capped off his brilliant performance by passing for a sixth touchdown in the final period to propel Northeast Hamilton to a dominant 44-8 rout of Ankeny Christian Academy in 8-man play during Week 1 of the prep football season.
"I thought Tyler did a really nice job and he got better as the night went on," NEH head coach John Seiser said. "He was kind of dancing around at first, but once he started hitting the hole he really did a nice job."
Smith finished with a career-high 258 yards rushing on 23 carries - an average of 11.2 yards per tote. He completed just 1-of-4 passes, but his connection to Austin Smith covered 39 yards with 10:35 remaining in the contest to push the Trojans in front, 44-0.
Ankeny Christian Academy 0 0 0 8-8
Northeast Hamilton22 8 6 8-44
NEH - Tyler Smith 2 run (Smith run), 8:23.
NEH - Smith 2 run (Smith run), 5:01.
NEH - Smith 29 run (kick failed), 1:29.
NEH - Smith 69 run (Gabe Rapp run), 9:44.
NEH - Smith 32 run (kick failed), 9:47.
NEH - Austin Smith 39 pass from T. Smith (Rapp run), 10:35.
ACA - Titus DeFord 55 kickoff return (Abraham Lopez run), 10:24.
Rushing - NEH: Tyler Smith 23-258, Gabe Rapp 11-49, Andy Pate 3-21.
Passing - NEH: T. Smith 1-4-1 39.
Receiving - NEH: Austin Smith 1-39.
Tackles - NEH: Rapp 11.5, Logan Seiser 7, A. Smith 7, Kyle Pruismann 5.5, Pate 4, T. Smith 4, Cole Elsberry 4, Noah Ronnfeldt 2, Gunther Range 1.
Seiser wasn't necessarily surprised by the outcome, but he couldn't help but be optimistic by what he saw from his players, many of whom were seeing varsity action for the first time.
"We did exactly what we wanted to do. We didn't show a lot and we wanted to come out and really establish the run," he said. "(ACA) had eight men in the box because they knew we weren't going to pass much, but it still went just the way we had hoped."
The Trojans young offensive line - sophomores Bryce Van Langen and Trevor Carlson earned starting nods - didn't just hold up, it dominated.
"The offensive line was a pleasant surprise," Seiser said. "Ankeny was very big, but those guys did a very good job of getting into their guy and staying with people."
Tyler Smith pounded his way into the end zone from 2 yards out on back-to-back first-quarter possession before peeling off a 29-yard sprint to the house to put the Trojans (1-0) ahead 22-0 after 12 minutes of play.
He got loose on a 69-yard jaunt in the second quarter to make it 30-0 at the intermission, and then got on his horse again and sprinted 32 yards to the end zone in the third quarter.
ACA (0-2) avoided the shutout with 10:24 left when Titus DeFord returned a kickoff 55 yards for the touchdown. But offensively, the Eagles were shackled throughout.
"The defense surprised me the most," Seiser said. "I was worried that was the area we would be way behind in because (ACA) runs multiple formations where they spread you out. But we didn't get beat ever and the guys tackled pretty well, too."
Gabe Rapp - a starter at linebacker a year ago - moved back to the secondary for the first time and notched eight solo tackles and a game-high 11.5 total stops. Logan Seiser and Austin Smith both had seven tackles.
Rapp and Logan Seiser both recorded sacks.
At fullback, Rapp lugged the ball 11 times for 49 yards. Andy Pate got three carries that covered 21 yards.
NEH will face another team struggling to find the win column on Friday when it travels to Colo to face Iowa Star Conference rival Colo-NESCO at 7 p.m. The Royals - in their first year in the 8-man ranks - were thumped by Adair-Casey, 49-14, on Friday.