Comets are playoff bound

Mark Becker · Tuesday, October 24, 2017
On Friday, Oct, 23, the West Liberty Comets football team had to take care of business, then wait and see, if they were going to get into the post season.

With a West Liberty win over Camanche, followed by a Mt. Vernon victory over Williamsburg, the Comets clinched their first playoff berth since 2013.

The Comets won their final game of the regular season 45-22. Despite a slow start, it ended up being a record breaking game for the Comets.

“We had a sluggish week of practice and it carried over to the start of the game,” said Coach Jason Iske.

“Credit Camanche, we game planned to double their best receiver and they did some good things with motion to take advantage of that plan.  We had to abandon our original plan after the first couple series,” he added.

West Liberty amassed 592 rushing yards during the game, setting a single game school record.

Joe Kelly also set a school record with his stat line of 345 yards on 26 carries with 3 touchdowns, while Seth Feldman had a great night with 156 yards on 11 carries and 2 touch downs.

Defensively, Spencer Daufeldt had 13.5 tackles while Coy Ruess and Elias Rocha had 8.5 and 7 tackles respectively. Feldman was 1 of 5 for 10 yards in the passing department.

“The plan was to definitely run the ball,” said Coach Iske. “We liked the matchup with our offensive linemen and tight ends vs their front. Plus, when is it ever wrong to get Joe the ball?”

“Seth Feldman made some nice reads and runs as well and I thought AJ Lenz and Gaby Melendez came in and continued to run the ball well,” he added.

Coach Iske went on to add that he knows the passing game needs work on both the offensive and defensive side.

This will be something the Comets need to address before they travel to Cascade this Friday, Oct. 30 for first-round playoff action against the 8-0 Cougars.

“They are big and physical up front with a big bruising RB and a QB that can hurt you with his arm and feet,” said Coach Iske.

“They swarm on defense and are tough to get a push on. This will definitely be a challenge, but one we are all looking forward to” said Iske.

The Comets final 2017 regular season record is a winning one at 6-3, while their district record is 5-2 in Class 2A District 5.

First Quarter

West Liberty won the coin flip and deferred giving Camanche the ball first. The Indians came out ready to play.

They took the opening kickoff 60 yards to score on an 8 yard pass from Crigger to Esparza and then converted the two-point conversion to put Camanche up early 8-0.

West Liberty countered with a touchdown drive of their own; a Seth Feldman 42 yard touchdown run on a read option over left tackle, capping a 4 play, 80 yard drive.

Joe Kelly ran the two point conversion across to tie the game at 8 a piece.

On the second drive, Camanche scored again with a 72 yard drive aided by a West Liberty fumble on a punt return that gave Camanche the ball back.

They marched down to score with 3:38 to go in the first quarter, on a fade pass from Crigger to Hardison in the corner of the end zone.

West Liberty did a nice job defending the 2 point conversion try and knocked down the Crigger pass, but the Indians took the lead 14-8.

West Liberty continued to click and scored on their next possession, by going 68 yards in only 4 plays, with scoring play coming from Joe Kelly on a sweep around left end that he took 40 yards to pay dirt.

Feldman then hit Kelly on a pass to complete the two point conversion. West Liberty went up 16-14 late in the first quarter.

Second Quarter

The second quarter was a stalemate with neither team getting a score.

The Comet offense turned the ball over with a couple of interceptions deep in Indian territory and a fumble.

However, defense held its ground and didn’t allow the Camanche offense to build any momentum by keeping them out of the end zone. Halftime score was West Liberty 16 Camanche 14.

Third Quarter

After halftime adjustments, West Liberty started gaining some offensive consistency.

On the opening drive, the Comets scored quickly on a 4 play, 63 yard drive, that ended with a 56 yard touchdown by Feldman on an option keeper. Bryce Esmoil converted the PAT to give West Liberty a 23-14 lead.

On the next Camanche drive, the Comets forced the quarterback Crigger to fumble, and Daufeldt pounced on it to give the ball back to the potent Comet offense.

The Indian defense stiffened up and forced the West Liberty offense into a 4th and 17 at the Camanche 19 yard line, resulting in a Feldman sack and turning the ball over on downs.

After a Camanche punt, West Liberty took over at their own 10 yard line, and 2 plays later was in the end zone, thanks to great blocking and an explosive Kelly who took the second play from scrimmage 89 yards for a score.

Esmoil’s PAT was good and just like that the Comets were up 30-14 with 3:18 to go in the third quarter.

The Comet defense led by Spencer Daufeldt with 13.5 tackles and 3.5 sacks held serve as the Indians tried to drive the ball, but were unable to and turned the ball over on downs.

Fourth Quarter

The West Liberty offense returned the favor and fumbled on a mis-handled pitch, with Camanche recovering it.

Camanche used the momentum and QB Crigger hit Eric Campie down the right sideline to score from 61 yards out and bring the Indians to within a touchdown at 30-22 at the 8:01 mark of the 4th quarter.

The Comets were far from done as the offense was still working like a well-oiled machine, with Kelly scoring from 10 yards out for his third touchdown of the night with 6:14 to go in the game.

After holding the Camanche offense to a punt, Gabriel Melendez ran it in from 6 yards out to complete the scoring for the Comets on their next possession.

Esmoil was good on both PAT attempts. The Comets came away with the victory 45-22.

Game Statistics:

WL - 16   0   14   15   45

C - 8     6    0     8    22


1st Q - Seth Feldman (#10) 42 yard rush (2pt good; Joe Kelly (#15) rush)

1st Q - Joe Kelly (#15) 40 yard rush (2pt good; Seth Feldman (#10) pass to Joe Kelly (#15))

3rd Q - Seth Feldman (#10) 56 yard rush (Bryce Esmoil (#55) PAT good)

3rd Q - Joe Kelly (#15) 89 yard rush (Bryce Esmoil (#55) PAT good)

4th Q - Joe Kelly (#15) 10 yard rush (2pt good; Seth Feldman (#10) rush)

4th Q - Gabriel Melendez (#3) 6 yard rush (Bryce Esmoil (#55) PAT good)

Fumble Returns

Spencer Daufeldt (#52) - 1 for 0 yards

Penalties - 4 for 35 yards

1st Downs – 21
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