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Kirtland too much for Blue Devils

November 9, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

KIRTLAND - McDonald coach Dan Williams has a goal to make the Blue Devils into a state-powerhouse program like their opponent on Friday night, the Kirtland Hornets.

With this goal in mind, Williams wanted to see how the Blue Devils stacked up with the first-seeded Hornets in the first round of the Division VI, Region 19 playoffs. The end result showed the Blue Devils have a long way to go, as Kirtland handled McDonald, 57-0.

"They're a state-caliber football team there, and I told our kids, 'If you want to get to that level, we've got to do some things now on offense and we've got to become better,' " Williams said. "That is a good test for our kids, to let us know what that level of football is all about and see how we stack up to the best in the state."

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The Hornets (11-0) were on another level than the Blue Devils, controlling the point of attack on both sides of the ball. They gashed the McDonald defense for 480 yards rushing while also sacking McDonald quarterback Ben Carkido five times in the first half.

"They were just a more experienced football team and a good football team," junior running back Cameron Ifft said. "They overpowered us."

Kirtland's dominance started on the opening drive of the game - marching 58 yards on 10 plays, finished by an Adam Hess 3-yard touchdown run with 7:48 left in the quarter. It was a lead the Hornets never relinquished.

Kirtland proceeded to score two more touchdowns in the next two-and-a-half minutes, forcing two turnovers over that span to give itself short fields. However, after that stretch, Kirtland struggled to create much offense until late in the second quarter.

"They did a nice job in the first half stopping our stacked-I (formation), and we got out of it and had to go to a couple different formations to get moving," Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde said. "We're fortunate to get a couple turnovers early and get up 20-0."

The Blue Devils (7-4) struggled to get anything going on offense, rushing for minus-9 yards throughout the game. They turned to the passing game to try and find something on offense, but outside of the final drive in which they marched to the Kirtland 10-yard line, the Blue Devils didn't threaten once.

Williams pointed to a few dropped passes hurting any kind of continuity for the offense.

"We missed too many (chances) in the first half," Williams said. "As bad as we played, a couple big plays here or there could have at least kept us around a little longer. We needed momentum somewhere on offense - we just never got the offense clicking."

Despite the blowout loss, Williams praised the team, as the Blue Devils qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Williams said such a feat was especially big for the eight seniors, who went winless when they were in seventh grade.

"The eight (seniors), they're great kids," Williams said. "They were a fun bunch to work with. Kids wanted to come out and practice, wanted to come out and play, and I'm really proud of the group with the way we responded and hung in there and fought."

As for the players returning for next year, Ifft said they got the message as to what it takes to be a great football team based on their experience against Kirtland.

"We need to hit the weight room," Ifft said. "We need to run every single day and get bigger, faster stronger because we want to get to a high level like the level they're at. We want to make state runs."