Jamestown High School's electrifying efficiency on fourth-and-long situations last Friday at Taylor Stadium was mesmerizing.
The Blue Jays gave Ty Monson the time to make things happen with his arm in the second half, as the senior quarterback completed a fourth-and-9 for a first down and both a fourth-and-12 and a fourth-and-7 that went for touchdowns in Jamestown's come-from-behind, 21-20, victory over Bismarck Legacy.
Monson completed 13 of 23 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns to help lead Jamestown to its first 3-0 start under six-year head coach Bill Nelson. But it goes without saying, a ton of things went right for the Blue Jays in order for Monson to showcase his talent after trailing 20-0 midway through the third quarter.
"Guys stepping up and making plays," Nelson said. "It starts with your guys up front giving time. And, a guy that didn't get noticed -- but deserves a heckuva lot of credit -- Jakob Schempp had three massive blocks on that last series. Two were to keep by Ty alive and the third was to spring Preston (Kroeber) on his long run.
"Without those happening, we're probably not sitting in this situation."
Monson found tight end Keith Levin for 37 yards on fourth down during Jamestown's game-winning, fourth-quarter drive, and on fourth down with 32 seconds remaining he connected with Kroeber, who'd run in his second touchdown reception of the half.
Jamestown's first three drives of the game ended with a lost fumble, a three-and-out, and an interception, but by the end the Jays had rung up 335 yards of total offense and had converted three of four attempts on fourth down.
Kroeber ended the game with four catches for 74 yards, while senior receivers Jacob Hilgemann and Carson Lamp combined for six catches and 121 yards.
"Keith making another big catch, Preston stepping up," Nelson said. "We had quite a few yards moving the ball and that's obviously extremely encouraging going forward."
And, so is the Blue Jays' current youth movement. The unbeaten Blue Jays have had a handful of sophomores make splash plays through three games.
On Friday, Payton Hochhalter completed a 29-yard pass to Lamp in the third quarter to keep Jamestown's first scoring drive alive while Monson had to exit the game for a single play due to being shaken up. Defensively, Colton Mewes recovered a fumble, while Jackson Walters and Paris Ndikum each made potentially game-saving tackles, all in the second half.
"Those are all sophomores," Nelson said. "That's the exciting thing about it. We finished the game off again -- third game in a row -- with four sophomores on the field. That's good stuff going forward."
The Iron Helmet Trophy will be on the line Friday night at 7 p.m. for the Blue Jays, as Jamestown renews its rivalry with Valley City at Ernie Gates Field. The Hi-Liners are 1-1 after a bumpy start to 2020.
Valley City football, ranked fifth in Class AA, had to quarantine players due to COVID-19 in August, forcing the cancellation of its Aug. 28 game against Beulah. Valley City has since lost to top-ranked Bismarck St. Mary's 34-0 and dominated Stanley 76-0 on Sept. 4.
The coronavirus pandemic shaped this week's matchup between the two rivals. Jamestown was originally scheduled to play Williston, while Valley City was originally scheduled to play Kindred. Both Williston and Kindred have recently had to quarantine players.
"Jamestown's on a roll right now," Valley City head football coach Scott Roehrich said. "I know they like to spread the ball out quite a bit, so we're gonna have our hands full with the weapons that they've got offensively. We're kinda more of a ground and pound team, so I think for us we're going to have to get pressure on the quarterback and then we've gotta be able to hold up defensively in the secondary."
The Hi-Liners have only passed the ball six times for 58 yards in two games, but they've churned out 439 rushing yards on 64 attempts. All-state senior running back Max Fehr has 26 of those carries going for 280 yards (10.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.
Valley City has forced nine turnovers, having recovered five fumbles and recording three interceptions on defense.
"We need to limit turnovers and take care of the ball," said Nelson, whose Blue Jays are 2-0 in Iron Helmet games. "It's Valley. Coach Roehrich is gonna have his guys ready to go and they're gonna compete their tails off."
Both coaches agree that whoever controls at the line of scrimmage will most likely come out on top.
"Our progression is going in the right direction," Nelson said. "We've yet to play a full football game. So, going forward, what it will look like when we do play a full game is gonna look pretty special."
GAME NOTE: Friday's game will pit Jamestown Blue Jay boys soccer teammates Levi Korum and Jay Kupitz against each other on the gridiron. Both kickers, Kupitz has converted 4 of 7 extra points on the season for the Hi-Liners, while Korum has booted home 4 of 4 extra points for the Blue Jays.
(Full stats below)
Jamestown 21, Bismarck Legacy 20
BL 14 0 6 0 -- 20
JHS 0 0 7 14 -- 21
BL: Lyric Hoffman 2 run (TJ Seidel kick), 6:39.
BL: Lyric Hoffman 1 run (Seidel kick), 0:12.
BL: Nick Kupfer 34 pass from Clay Feland, (kick failed) 6:43.
JHS: Preston Kroeber 31 pass from Ty Monson, (Reece Kleinknecht kick), 2:02.
JHS: Jacob Hilgemann 61 pass from Monson (Kleinknecht kick), 3:54.
JHS: Kroeber 26 pass from Monson (Kleinknecht kick), 0:22.
Records: Jamestown 3-0. Bismarck Legacy 1-2.
Team Totals J L
Total plays 55 68
Total yards 335 370
Passing yards 262 162
Rushing yards 73 208
Third down 2-8 5-13
Fourth down 3-4 2-5
Turnovers 2 1
Fumbles lost 1 1
INTs thrown 1 0
Penalties 4 8
Yards 40 74
JHS Individual Statistics
Passing: Ty Monson 13-23-1 233, Payton Hochhalter 1-1-0 29, Carson Lamp 0-1-0 0.
Rushing: Monson 16-55, Austin Kessler 4-13, Jakob Schempp 4-11, Jacob Hilgemann 3-(-6).
Receiving: Preston Kroeber 4-74, Hilgemann 2-64, Lamp 4-57, Keith Levin 1-37, Brode Hillstrom 2-26, Schempp 1-4.
Tackling leaders (solo): Colton Mewes 13 (6), Matt Anderson 9 (5), Joel Bowman 4 (4), Monson 6 (2), Levin 4 (2).
TFL: Kessler, Anderson, Levin.
Fumble recoveries: Mewes.
JHS Season Leaders
Passing: Monson 37-57-2 639, 6 TDs.
Rushing: Kessler 36-194, TD; Monson 46-126, 3 TDs; Schempp 14-70.
Receiving: Kroeber 13-219, 3 TDs; Levin 3-138, TD; Adam Kallenbach 6-88, TD; Hilgemann 2-64, TD; Hillstrom 3-57; Lamp 4-57; Kessler 2-23, Schempp 5-22..
Tackle leaders (solo): Mewes 25 (15), Anderson 21 (12), Aden Braun 16 (9), Bowman 14 (12), Monson 13 (5), Kallenbach 11 (9), Jackson Walters 10 (4).
TFL: Anderson 5, Levin 3, Mewes 2, Kessler 2, Braun, Kallenbach, Ian Weis.
Sacks: Anderson, Kessler
Interceptions: Bowman 1-0, Kessler 1-18, Ndikum 1-2, Burchill 1-0, Kroeber 1-0.
Fumble Recoveries: Mewes.