As the old football saying goes, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships."
That was certainly the case Friday night.
The Union Knights 7-1 (5-0) clinched the 2A District 3 title with a resounding 48-12 victory over the New Hampton Chickasaws 7-1 (4-1). The offense featuring the electric Jay Scheel lived up to its billing being a top 3 scoring offense in Class 2A.
However, it was the Union defense that was the unsung hero in what was supposed to be a high-scoring, shootout battle for the district crown.
New Hampton came into the contest with the No. 7 scoring offense in 2A, averaging over 41 points per game. Three seniors -- quarterback Noah Stochl, halfback Brandon Tenge, and wide receiver Sawyer Anderson -- were each among the district leaders in yardage at their respective positions. Altogether, the trio could find no answers against the Union defense. Stochl completed just 11 of 20 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. Tenge finished with 118 yards on 25 carries, but a long run against the Union reserves provided a large portion of his total yardage. Anderson came into the game averaging 27.7 yards per catch, but was unable to bust any long gains, hauling in just six catches for 83 yards. Overall, the Knights defense was what stood out most to Head Coach Joe Hadachek.
"Our defense deserves a lot of credit," said Hadachek. "They sometimes go unnoticed with Scheel and the offense grabbing all the attention, but they definitely put forth their best game of the year."
While the defense was nothing short of spectacular, the offense made the most of its opportunities as well.
Hadachek noted the explosiveness of his offense - in their first seven offensive plays, four resulted in touchdowns.
Needless to say, Scheel used his legs early and often. Scheel added to his Division 1 highlight reel as he galloped 22 yards for the first Knights score - high hurdling a Chickasaw defender in the process.
Union continued its early dominance with two more Scheel touchdown runs, the second coming on a stunning 84-yard burst. When New Hampton began to focus on Scheel's rushing prowess, he unleashed a 44-yard TD strike to tight end Will Crees. The long TD pass had Union out to a commanding 28-0 lead, just minutes into the second quarter.
The only thing able to slow down the Knights attack Friday night? A one-hour lightning delay.
Following the delay, the Knights added two more scores - a 35-yard TD carry by Scheel and the other coming on a 2-yard plunge by Halanier Holmes.
While halfback Andrew Osuna didn't reach pay dirt in the 36-point blowout, his surge at halfback continued. The senior rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries.
Besides the impressive statistics for Union, the win meant more than just a district title for Coach Hadachek.
"We played this game for the 2009 squad - we had revenge on our minds."
When asked about Union's upcoming opponent - Waterloo Columbus - Hadachek said the mentality would remain the same.
Columbus spoiled the Knights season in 2007, crushing Union's early-season hopes of reaching the playoffs. The Knights were 4-0 at the time of the Columbus defeat and finished in third place - one spot shy of postseason play.
Kickoff Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m. in La Porte City as Union concludes their 2A District 3 slate with the Sailors, 0-5 in district play and 0-8 overall.
With the No. 1 seed locked up for the Knights, they will be watching the scoreboard for 2A District 4. Mount Vernon is currently hanging on to the No. 4 seed in that district, respectively.