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Weeping Water ends season in playoff game

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WEEPING WATER – Cross County kept Weeping Water from continuing its undefeated season on Friday night with a sledgehammer mentality by the offensive line.

The tenth-seeded Cougars defeated seventh-seeded Weeping Water 67-36 in the second round of the Class D-1 playoffs. Cross County relied on powerful blocks from the offensive line to produce scoring plays throughout the game. Senior running back Carter Seim led the way with 257 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Weeping Water head coach Mitchell Shepherd said the Indians knew Cross County would use a wildcat system that featured direct snaps to either Seim or fellow senior Haiden Hild. The problem was stopping an offensive line that featured tall, quick and disciplined blockers.

“They’re a physical football team and they’re really good at what they do,” Shepherd said. “They have a great offensive line and that’s what they rely on. They know what their recipe for success is, and they keep going to that well until you can stop it. We had trouble with that tonight.”

Weeping Water went toe to toe with the Cougars throughout the first 15 minutes. The Indians took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in 12 plays. Hunter Mortimer bulled over a defender from the 5-yard line to put the team ahead 6-0.

A 39-yard run by Seim late in the first quarter gave the Cougars a 7-6 lead, but Weeping Water responded with a touchdown on the next series. Mortimer ended the drive with a fourth-and-goal run up the middle with 9:02 left in the half. Sayler Rhodes then caught a two-point conversion pass to give the Indians a 15-14 lead.

Cross County controlled the rest of the half with a tidal wave of offense. Seim sprinted into the end zone twice in a three-minute span to make it 23-14, and he followed a pair of blockers on a 59-yard play with 2:36 remaining. He scored his fifth touchdown of the night on a 19-yard run with 56 seconds left in the quarter.

Cross County (9-1) expanded its 39-14 halftime lead on the opening drive of the third quarter. Seim burst through the right side for a 15-yard touchdown two minutes into the period. He found the end zone for the final time six minutes later to create a 54-14 margin.

Weeping Water scored three times in the final 14 minutes. Mortimer ran up the middle from nine yards out with 1:38 to go in the third quarter, and Keegan McDonald took an option pitch 19 yards to pay dirt with 7:07 left in the game. Mortimer connected with Ethan Essary on an 11-yard touchdown pass near the left pylon in the final minute.

Mortimer led the team’s rushing attack with 134 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries. He also completed six passes for 53 yards and one touchdown and made two receptions for 46 yards.

McDonald ran 11 times for 105 yards and one touchdown, and Rhodes carried the football three times for four yards. Rhodes completed one pass for 16 yards and Ethan Essary threw one pass for 30 yards. Essary snagged two receptions for ten yards and Hayden Nash hauled in two passes for 44 yards.

Mortimer guided Weeping Water’s defense with four solo and four assisted tackles. Nash pocketed three solo tackles, Tyler Essary made two solo plays and Logan March posted one solo and four assisted stops.

Ethan Essary had four assisted tackles and Carter Mogensen made one solo and three assisted tackles. Rhodes, McDonald and Brayden Harms each finished with one solo tackle.

Tyler Essary, Mogensen and Mortimer were the team’s three seniors. Shepherd said they were positive role models for younger players throughout the fall.

“Those three gave us really good leadership the whole season,” Shepherd said. “They set a good example for the younger guys with the way they worked in both practices and games. They really came through for us this year.”

Weeping Water finished the season 9-1. The team won all eight regular-season games, claimed the district championship and qualified for the playoffs for the 14th time in school history. The Indians won a playoff game for the third time in program history.

“We can’t let one loss overshadow everything that this team did this season,” Shepherd said. “Our kids have a lot to be proud of. We had an undefeated regular season, we won a playoff game and we kept fighting until the very end of this one tonight. I’m very proud of what the guys accomplished this year.”

Cross County        7 32 22   6 – 67

Weeping Water    6   8   6 16 – 36

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

WW – Mortimer 5 run (pass no good), 6:24

CC – Seim 39 run (Manzanares kick), 1:11

2nd Quarter

WW – Mortimer 2 run (Rhodes pass from Mortimer), 9:02

CC – Seim 12 run (Seim run), 7:43

CC – Seim 1 run (Lundstrom run), 4:58

CC – Seim 59 run (Hild run), 2:36

CC – Seim 19 run (Seim run), 0:56

3rd Quarter

CC – Seim 15 run (Hild run), 9:53

CC – Seim 38 run (Manzanares kick), 3:39

WW – Mortimer 9 run (pass no good), 1:38

CC – Lundstrom 8 run (Manzanares kick), 0:08

4th Quarter

WW – McDonald 19 run (McDonald run), 7:07

WW – Essary 11 pass from Mortimer (McDonald run), 0:56

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