BLAIRSBURG - On Friday, the Northeast Hamilton football team finished up the toughest stretch of games the program has faced since it entered the 8-man ranks eight years ago, and you would think that fact would bring some comfort to head coach John Seiser.
But Seiser has other things to ponder, like how many bodies he has left in uniform.
The Trojans season-long trend of players dropping to injury continued during their 54-16 loss to once-beaten Laurens-Marathon Friday night. Starting tailback Tyler Smith went down with a game-ending ankle injury in the second quarter, Gunther Range exited for good in the third quarter, and Logan Seiser was unable to finish after taking a hit to the head.
DFJ photo by Tracy Runneberg
Northeast Hamilton’s Austin Smith (42) attempts to drag down Laurens-Marathon’s Matt Cleveland during Friday’s football game in Blairsburg.
"It's just been a terrible combination this year of the competition and the fact that we can't keep anybody on the field," John Seiser said. "We've said all year that the schedule is brutal and if we were 100 percent healthy, I don't know how many more wins we'd have, but we definitely would've played some of these teams closer. But now we're just trying to find bodies to put out there."
NEH (1-6, 0-5) was down to 13 available players by the time the final horn sounded on its sixth consecutive loss. The Trojans' five district contests have been against teams with a combined 27-10 record, three of which - top-ranked Newell-Fonda (7-0), North Iowa (6-1) and Laurens-Marathon (6-1) - are 19-2.
Losing Smith stopped the Trojans in their tracks, and they finished with just 143 yards of total offense. Smith gained 39 yards on 13 carries before his injury; he accounted for 846 of the team's 1,336 (63 percent) ground yards entering the battle.
Laurens-Marathon12 14 21 7-54
Northeast Hamilton 0 8 0 8-16
L-M - Will Cleveland 18 pass from Matt Cleveland (kick failed), 9:51.
L-M - Collin Lind 2 run (run failed), 2:38.
L-M - Lind 9 run (W. Cleveland run), 9:03.
NEH - Gunther Range 11 pass from Logan Seiser (Range pass from Seiser), 3:22.
L-M - M. Cleveland 11 run (pass failed), 1:12.
L-M - Lind 5 run (W. Cleveland pass from M. Cleveland), 10:47.
L-M - Lind 26 run (run failed), 6:37.
L-M - Ben Fuchs 56 pass from M. Cleveland (Jake Simpson kick), 4:20.
NEH - Gabe Rapp 3 run (Rapp run), 2:58.
L-M - Chase Oehlertz 44 run (Simpson kick), 2:16.
Rushing - NEH: Gabe Rapp 17-43, Tyler Smith 13-39, Kyler Rapp 10-23.
Passing - NEH: Logan Seiser 3-6-0 38.
Receiving - NEH: Austin Smith 2-27, Gunther Range 1-11.
"We were already struggling with things, and then to lose our biggest offensive weapon definitely hurt," John Seiser said. "I thought we could do some things against them offensively and we were, but once Tyler got hurt it was tough to keep it close."
Laurens-Marathon led 26-8 at the half, and the Chargers proceeded to rattle off 21 straight points in the third quarter to push their cushion to 47-8.
Before their injuries, Range and Logan Seiser accounted for the Trojans' first-half touchdown. Seiser tossed an 11-yard scoring pass in Range's direction, and the two also hooked up on the 2-point conversion.
Logan Seiser completed 3 of 6 passes for 38 yards and the touchdown. Austin Smith snagged a pair of catches that covered 27 yards.
Gabe Rapp added a 3-yard touchdown run in the final period. He plowed his way to 43 yards rushing on 17 totes, and Kyler Rapp checked in with 23 yards on 10 carries.
Kyler Rapp also had a solid night defensively with five solo tackles and nine total stops from his safety position. Gabe Rapp had an interception and fumble recovery.
Collin Lind packed on four touchdown runs of 2, 9, 5 and 26 yards for Laurens-Marathon. Twin brothers Will and Matt Cleveland connected on an 18-yard scoring pass, and Matt also found Ben Fuchs on a 56-yard touchdown bomb and ran one in himself from 11 yards out.
The Trojans' schedule lets up considerably over the final two weeks with district games slated against Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire (1-6, 1-4) and CAL (0-7, 0-5).