IPSWICH – After a 7-1 regular season, the Ipswich Tigers proved they possess the tools needed for a deep playoff run in nine-man football.
The Tigers averaged more than 43 points per game across their eight regular-season games while also shutting out teams on three occasions. Ipswich earned the No. 3 seed in the 9AA playoffs and will host No. 14 Lemmon-McIntosh in the opening round tonight.
“We’re excited anytime we make the playoffs – it’s always a good feeling,” said Ipswich coach Brian Hogie. “We’re seeing a lot of excitement in the community and it’s even better when you have a home game in the first round.”
Football classification is based on enrollment, and Ipswich was placed in the 9AA class for 2021. However, the Tigers only faced two 9AA teams in the regular season.
The majority of their games were against 9A and 9B schools in the Lake Region Conference. Ipswich’s lone loss this season came to unbeaten Herreid-Selby Area, the top seeded-team in Class 9A.
The Tigers are not worried about a possible lack of familiarity with the teams in their bracket because they trust their regular season strength of schedule to prepare them in any nine-man playoff bracket.
Every team in the LRC made the football playoffs this fall.
“Our conference from top to bottom has always been good,” noted Hogie. “When you talk about football up here in the northwest, it’s always a high point. When you’re at the top of this conference, you have the chance of making a good run.”
The Tigers won the LRC championship this season with a key contest coming on Sept. 17 with their homecoming night victory over Warner 34-6. Ipswich had not defeated the Monarchs since 2008.
“It was something these kids have never done before, and it was a big confidence booster,” said Hogie.
The homecoming win over Warner not only was a statement game, but served as a symbol that the 2021 senior class has helped to transform the program.
After a solid 2020 season, the 2021 senior class built upon that success in spring and summer workouts knowing they would be one of the most experienced teams in the state with seven of their 23 players being seniors.
“These kids provide great leadership,” stated Hogie. “Usually, at the end of practice it’s the freshmen putting stuff away, but these guys are doing those kinds of things without anyone asking it of them.”
The seniors also look beyond their time with the Ipswich football program and community, taking time out of their schedule to prepare the future players on the varsity squad, The group spends their Sunday off day volunteering at the program’s youth clinic in an effort of not only giving back to the community but also continuing the development of Ipswich’s winning culture.
The class is led by Carson Gohl, Luke Peterson and Zach Geditz. Gohl and Peterson are three-year starters for the Tigers, and Peterson and Geditz earned all-state selections in 2020.
Gohl leads Ipswich in rushing with 683 yards on 70 carries for a 9.8 yards per carry average and 15 touchdowns on the ground. Gohl also performs kicking and punting duties for the Tigers.
Peterson is third on the team in rushing yards and first in two-point conversions, but supplies most of his production on the defensive side of the ball, tallying a team-high 64 tackles.
Geditz sets the tone for the defense on the defensive line, a unit that gives up an average of just over 10 points per game.
Other seniors are Ty Kadlec, Matthew Jaenisch, Trevor Beyers and Jordan Nierman.
Ipswich’s key to success on defense stems from their bend-but-don’t-break philosophy of keeping the play in front of them, limiting blitz packages and relying on team speed to chase down plays.
With the Tigers’ playoff experience, senior leadership and defensive discipline, the program holds a winning formula that translates to playoff success in nine-man football, regardless of class.
The Tigers and Cowboys will kick off at 7 p.m. tonight at the Ipswich Athletic Complex for the right to advance to the state quarterfinals. The winner will face the winner of No. 6 Florence-Henry and No. 11 Canistota-Freeman.
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