CONESTOGA – Conestoga coaches believe the seeds planted by the 2019 football team early in the season sprouted into a successful harvest this year.
The Cougars ended this fall’s campaign 1-8. CHS head coach Trenton Clausen said he felt the team made progress during the year. Conestoga gained more than 1,000 yards of offense, scored 83 points and collected 55 first downs. All of those totals were improvements from the previous season.
“We made good strides through the season in all three phases of the game,” Clausen said. “All of our players and coaches did what we set out to accomplish, which was to improve every day, every practice and every game.
“We had players that stepped up as leaders and pushed our team to continue to improve. Our coaching staff did a great job of putting together great weeks of practice and preparing for each opponent.”
One of the highlights came Oct. 4 when the Cougars defeated Syracuse 27-8. Clausen said the victory was a direct result of the group’s commitment to get better as the year moved along.
“When we met as a team in early August, we told the boys that anything is possible if you believe and as soon as your belief starts to waver, progress will stop or move in the opposite direction,” Clausen said. “I’m proud of how our season went and thank our school district, coaches, teachers, administration and fans for the support during the entire 2019 season.”
Conestoga gained 1,072 yards of offense (925 rushing, 147 passing) this year. The Cougars converted 18 times on third-down plays (20.45 percent of total attempts) and three times on fourth-down plays (12.00 percent of total attempts).
Tobias Nolting completed nine passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. Jaemes Plowman caught seven passes for 87 yards, Justin Pick made one 50-yard touchdown catch and Cameron Williams hauled in one pass for ten yards.
Keaghon Chini led Conestoga’s ground game with 297 yards and one touchdown on 52 carries. Dillon Leffler gained 245 yards and two touchdowns on 47 attempts, and Jacob Dragon collected 217 yards and two scores on 45 carries.
Nolting scored three times and had 125 yards on 128 carries. Pick ran four times for 30 yards and one touchdown and Carter Lawson ran 14 times for 11 yards.
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Opponents gained 2,583 yards of offense (2,004 rushing, 579 passing) and 122 first downs during the season. Opponents converted 28 times on third down (40.58 percent of total attempts) and six times on fourth down (31.58 percent of total attempts).
Plowman made two interceptions and Pick recovered three fumbles. Leffler and Dragon each recovered one fumble. Owen Snipes, Hunter Thonen, Leffler, Dragon and Chini all forced one fumble.
Snipes led Conestoga’s defense with 41 solo and 42 assisted tackles. He made two sacks and seven stops for loss. Thonen was second on the team with 21 solo and 28 assisted tackles. He made one sack and seven tackles for loss.
Leffler collected 21 solo and 27 assisted tackles with six stops for loss, and Plowman contributed 21 solo and 23 assisted tackles. Dragon made 15 solo and 12 assisted plays with five stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Williams produced 18 solo and seven assisted tackles, and Chris Harkness ended the season with two solo and 16 assisted tackles. Nolting made 12 solo and six assisted tackles with one stop for loss, and Wesley Nickels generated ten solo and six assisted tackles.
Thonen finished 5-for-8 on extra-point kicks this season. He also punted five times for 114 yards.
Leffler punted 22 times for 485 yards and placed one kick inside the 20-yard line. Nolting punted five times for 91 yards and placed two kicks inside the 20.
Plowman returned 18 kickoffs for 212 yards and Pick made ten kickoff returns for 178 yards and one touchdown. Williams returned ten kickoffs for 114 yards and Lawson had 100 yards on 14 kickoff returns. Dragon (23), Nolting (22) and Thonen (7) also had kickoff return yardage.