When I walked into the game to watch Robbinsdale Armstrong take on Chaska in a battle of unbeaten teams I expected to see some explosiveness from the Armstrong offense. They have at least three guys on that side of the ball that will be playing football on Saturdays next year. What I was not expecting was a defense that dominated the game from start to finish. It was a defense that scored as many points as they gave up in their 26-12 victory. Here are five individuals who stood out Friday night.
Jake Breitbach Armstrong quarterback
Breitbach could not have started off much worse. The second play from scrimmage the senior quarterback made an ill-advised throw that resulted in six points for the Chaska Hawks. He threw another interception later in the first half but took control with his arm and his legs from there. Breitbach showed a strong arm who could push the ball downfield. He picked up a third and long with a strong throw on a deep out in the first half. Breitbach also has touch on the underneath throws. He showed he could throw on the move too. His most impressive play had nothing to do with his arm. With a designed quarterback draw called, he found a hole right up the middle, made a move to avoid a tackler and sprinted 66-yards for a touchdown.
Kham Chiaohiao Bowman Armstrong wide receiver
Before he even ran a route, Bowman looked like a big-time receiver. He is a big, strong athlete and he knows how to use those attributes. Bowman caught two touchdown passes and nearly caught a third. One of his touchdowns was a short route into the back corner of the end zone. He caught the over the shoulder ball and got a foot down before he ran out of real estate. Bowman would use good footwork again later in the first half with a toe tapping forty-yard catch on the sideline. Bowman would use speed and power to score his second touchdown. Catching a swing pass in the flat, the senior got up the field, broke a tackle and outran the defense to the goal line. Later he took a short pass and broke two tackles to turn what should have been a one-yard gain and turned it into ten yards and a first down.
Dacion Francis Armstrong linebacker
Francis attacked the line of scrimmage the entire game and set the tone early when he met the running back three yards in the backfield. The Hawks tried many times to throw screens and swing passes to the outside and the Falcons would have none of it. One of those attempts was blown up by Francis. He read the play, got to the outside and made an open field tackle for no gain. Later he filled the hole on an inside run and got the better of a big collision at the line of scrimmage. Chaska tried to run an option, but Francis shut that down in the backfield. Late in the game, the senior dropped into pass coverage and knocked down a pass. In the open field, it was just Francis and the quarterback and Francis stayed with the smaller quarterback and made an open-field tackle for a short gain.
Dante Barnes Armstrong linebacker
Along with Francis, Barnes was attacking the line of scrimmage all game. Although he didn’t flash as much as Francis in the running game, he timed his blitzes well and even though he didn’t get a sack he pressured the quarterback into poor throws. Barnes collected one of the Falcons’ interceptions. Chaska tried to dump the ball over the middle, but Barnes got into the passing lane and made the pick.
Noah Pappas Armstrong guard
Like Bowman – before Pappas even played a down, he looks the part. The huge lineman was part of a unit that wore down the Hawks’ defense. I noticed at least two pancake blocks during the game. Pappas is not just a road grader lineman either. He has good feet and the offense calls from him to pull on trap plays and sweeps. In the second half, running back Sean O’Driscoll ate up chunks of yards right up the middle. Usually right behind Pappas and company.