Southern 4B conference champs
The Columbus Cougars put an exclamation mark on the end of the regular season by winning the Southern 4B conference championship Friday night.
The Cougars downed the Roundup Panthers 35-26, finishing the regular season with a perfect 4-0 conference record and an overall record of 5-3.
Columbus was strong out of the gate, scoring on its first possession with a pass to senior Jace Aumueller.
Not only did Roundup fail to score on its first possession, a punt was blocked by Cougar senior Erik Schmidt, which was converted into another touchdown on the next play – putting the score at 14-0 early in the game.
Roundup answered with a TD on its next possession. The ensuing punt saw Cougar Connor Solomon ran back to the 10-yard line. Senior EJ Daniels ran the ball in a fourth down, followed by Mario Sabo’s kick.
A punt-fake on a fourth down resulted in a Cougar first down, which was converted to another score with a long pass to Aumueller, and a good kick – putting the score at 28-6.
Then things got a bit crazy. Daniels intercepted a Roundup pass. Cougar senior Chuck Miller fumbled the ball, which was then recovered by Roundup on the 26. The Panthers scored on that turnover, after running a handful of plays, putting the score at 28-12 at halftime.
Both teams scored again in the third quarter, with Roundup gaining a bit of steam with two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough, as the final score was 35-26.
Columbus Coach Blake Hoge was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We started strong on Friday night jumping to an early lead and never relinquishing it. This was definitely our most complete performance to date,” said Hoge. “We made big plays in all three phases of the game and I am particularly impressed with how our special teams stepped up to seal the conference championship. We were by no means perfect, but I’m happy with our guys’ work ethic and how we’ve been able to learn and improve as the season goes on. All the pieces are finally coming together as we prepare to get that elusive playoff win.”
Hoge credited the team’s success in the last month directly to the offensive line “gelling as a unit and taking over the line of scrimmage – specifically, Dustin Stepper, Cody Wegner, Matt Palmer, Josh Bowman and Erik Schmidt as the front five responsible for much of our recent offensive success.
EJ Daniels led the stats on the ground with 127 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Eddie Foos also contributed three passing TDs – two to Jace Aumueller and one to Connor Solomon.
“Connor also had a monster kickoff return that set up an easy score,” said Hoge.
Erik Schmidt gave the Cougars a short field by blocking an early punt. Wegner was all over the field on defense, totalling 13.5 tackles with a sack, tackle for loss and an interception. Aumueller and Miller rounded out the defensive leaders with 7 and 7.5 tackles, respectively.
The Cougars host Ronan next Saturday.