PARKERSBURG — Dike-New Hartford quarterback Drew Sonnenberg is part of a trio of senior offensive playmakers who appear to have found another gear following last year’s run to the Class 1A state title game.
The ability of Class 1A’s No. 2-ranked Wolverines to create big plays on offense and buckle down with their backs to the wall on defense led to a 27-7 win over rival Aplington-Parkersburg Friday night at Ed Thomas Field.
“A-P-Dike-New Hartford, it’s always a tough rivalry,” said Sonnenberg, who passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another in the first half during a game in which he threw for 192 yards. “We knew they were going to come out tough. We wanted to come out tough. We love playing each other. It means a lot to get this victory.”
An Aplington-Parkersburg offense (1-1) determined to get its ground game established after producing no total rushing yards during its opener began with a pair of lengthy marches into the red zone. A holding penalty ultimately derailed the initial series and an incomplete pass on fourth-and-five the second as Dike-New Hartford’s defense buckled down.
Aplington-Parkersburg didn’t reach the red zone again until early in the fourth quarter when running back Jalen Meyer punched the ball in from nine yards out for the first touchdown the Wolverines have surrendered all season.
“Our defense has been what we’ve lived and died with,” Dike-New Hartford coach Don Betts said of a unit filled with experience in the back seven. “Offensively, we’re not quite where we want to be yet. Defensively, they’ve been able to carry us so far this season and they did again tonight.
“It was really a bend but don’t break. We made a lot of mistakes, but the thing about it was we were able to battle through some adversity tonight.”
While Betts would like to see more consistency from his offense as the season progresses, the Wolverines certainly showcased an ability to hit big plays.
Sonnenberg found classmate Parker Kiewiet deep for touchdown passes of 67 and 28 yards in the second quarter en route to a 122-yard receiving game.
“He’s fast, he’s big, he’ll go up and get it for me,” Sonnenberg said. “I don’t have to put it perfect. He’s good to have out there.”
D-NH senior running back Cade Bennett helped his team build on its 20-0 halftime advantage when he broke a tackle with a spin move at the line, before racing 29 yards on the second drive of the third quarter capped by his nine-yard touchdown run. Bennett finished with 141 yards on 20 carries.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” Betts said. “He’s a heck of a running back. You don’t have to give him much and he can make things happen. We were able to run the ball with a little more consistency than we did last week.”
Meyer led A-P’s rushing attack 60 yards on 20 carries, and quarterback Owen Thomas found five different receivers for 126 yards through the air. D-NH, however, recorded three interceptions in the second half after coming up with the key red zone stops in the first quarter.
“Their defense is very good,” A-P coach Alex Pollock said. “Maybe we’re not built for the big play right now, so just taking four yards is a good deal.
“I think I’ve made it known that we need to run the football and we’re just not consistent right now. If we can clean that up, good things will happen.”
Despite the loss, the Falcons’ coach saw growth from Week 1 to Week 2.
“We saw progress this week,” Pollock said. “Defensively we continue to run to the football well and overall our effort is great. That’s something that can’t change from week-to-week and practice-to-practice.
“We need to get better. I do think we can compete with that team.”
Betts also believes his Wolverines have room to grow. One ingredient this group doesn’t lack, however, is chemistry.
“We just do a good job of sticking together,” Sonnenberg said. “Adversity hits, we pull together. I think that’s what we’ve been leaning on, and I think we’ll keep improving.”
Dike-N.H. 27, Apl.-Park. 7
Dike-N.H 6 14 7 0 — 27
Aplington-Park. 0 0 0 7 — 7
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DNH — Drew Sonnenberg 1 run (kick failed)
DNH — Parker Kiewiet 67 pass from Sonnenberg (Nolan Dall kick)
DNH — Kiewiet 28 pass from Sonnenberg (Dall kick)
DNH — Cade Bennett 10 run (Dall kick)
AP — Jalen Meyer 9 run (Isaac Hoogestraat kick)
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yards 29-162 38-98
Comp-att-int 9-15-1 12-23-3
Passing yards 192 126
Punts-avg 2-35.5 3-35
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 8-85 4-30
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD — Cade Bennett 20-141, Kaleb Brouwer 5-24, Dane Fuller 1-4, Noah Epley 1-2, Drew Sonnenberg 2-minus 9.
APLINGTON-PARKERSBURG — Jalen Meyer 20-60, Sam Nolte 9-24, Jack Haren 6-15, Ayden Morris 2-0, Owen Thomas 1-minus 1.
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD — Sonnenberg 9-15-1, 162 yards.
APLINGTON-PARKERSBURG — Thomas 12-23-3, 98 yards.
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD — Parker Kiewiet 4-122, Brouwer 1-25, AJ Wegener 2-23, Epley 1-9.
APLINGTON-PARKERSBURG — Jacob Kalkwarf 3-38, Josh Haan 2-33, Haren 3-28, Terrence Colar 1-8.