The Pella High Little Dutch came to Knoxville with one goal in mind Friday night: improving their play from week one. They left having accomplished that mission defeating the Panthers 42-16 in a game heard live on both AM 1320 KNIA and FM 92.1 KRLS.
Pella Head Coach Jay Mckinstrey said they put major emphasis on learning the speed of the game, limiting mistakes and playing physical and he felt the kids answered the call:
“I think our kids took it as a little bit of a challenge, and I think they were really focused in tonight,” said McKinstrey. “Our seniors did a great job creating an atmosphere of ‘we’re here to play’ and we wanted to make a better showing tonight. I think they did a fantastic job of leading this football team in a way to make that happen.”
Mckinstrey added that although there were definite improvements from week one to week two, there is still lots of room for improvement as this team continues to grow.
Pella jumped out to an early lead on a 69-yard run by Sam Davis, then took advantage of two Knoxville fumbles, resulting in a 25-yard field goal from Kenny Dupre and a 15-yard pass from Josh De Waard to Jace Versteeg to gain a 16-0 lead after one quarter. Nathan Clayberg scored on a seven-yard run on the very first play of the second quarter stretching the lead to 23-0 before Knoxville capped off an impressive drive with a 33-yard field goal from Eric Ryan making it a 23-3 game at halftime.
The lone score of the third quarter came from Pella’s Grant Gustaffson on a one-yard run. Each team added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. For Pella, De Waard connected with Christian Stafford from 15-yards out and David Wylie broke loose for a 26-yard run while Knoxville scored on a one-yard run from Bryant McWilliams, after he connected with Ryan Douglas on a 50-yard pass to set it up, then Gerritt Davis added a one-yard run as time expired.
Pella totaled 376 yards for the game, including 305 on the ground, as 11 different players carried the ball; led by Davis, who tallied 86 yards on five carries. Austin Fuller and Lucas Steenhoek each carried nine times for 59 and 55 yards, respectively. De Waard connected on 4-of-12 pass attempts for 71 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Trevor Wood was the leading receiver for the Little Dutch with 21 yards.
Knoxville Coach Troy Rider said there were more positives in week two…but just not enough to stay in it.
“We’re still trying to work some things out and figure out who can play – and at what spots – and moving some young pups around, giving them a shot a playing,” said Rider. “We saw a couple of positive things tonight, but we’ve got to continue to improve, and we need to improve a little faster than we are right now.”
Knoxville tallied 292 yards led by Bryant McWilliams, who completed 9-of-21 passes for 143 yards, while Justin Garrison led the ground game; carrying five times for 39 yards.
The Little Dutch improved to 1-1 on the season and will travel to Chariton to open Class 3A District 7 play next Friday, while the Panthers slide to 0-2 and open the District slate at home against ADM.