PHOTOS BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
Dalton senior Jaiden Malone before another touchdown.
Dalton senior Tate Geiser with the ball.
Dalton’s Owen Beatty
Dalton’s Jaden Schlabach
By ZACH McFARREN
DGKN sports writer
DALTON Really, this one was over at halftime. After 24 minutes of play, Dalton held a commanding 34-0 lead over the visiting Rittman Indians. The Dawgs scored a touchdown on each of their five first half possessions while each TD drive lasted two minutes or less. Quarterback Ethan Stutz found Jaiden Malone on two scoring strikes and Jaden Schlabach with a third. With Tate Geiser and Schlabach adding scores via the run game, Dalton was in total control of the contest from the beginning, and the ending was simply a matter of time.
While both Dalton and Rittman added two scores each in the second half, there was no suspense as Dalton would send out its seniors with a 47-21 victory. A running second half clock sped up the game, and now, with just a single week remaining in the regular season, the Bulldogs turn their attention to a highly anticipated match up with the Norwayne Bobcats.
Dalton and Norwayne both enter the game undefeated in the league. They also share losses to solid programs that helped prepare them for this season finale battle. The winner gets the WCAL crown. The loser gets second place. Neither team has been truly tested since at least week four, and most saw this game as the one that would decide the league championship.
Dalton’s offense looks to be clicking. With Geiser and Schlabach a two-headed monster in the backfield, defenses cannot key on a single runner. Add to that Stutz’s ability to gain yards in chunks, and it suddenly becomes pick your poison. Through the air, the Bulldogs are just as dangerous. Malone is a touchdown waiting to happen. Owen Beatty can take it to the house from any distance as well. And when Schlabach takes a pass out of the backfield, he often leaves a wake of defenders behind him. Stutz’s ability to get his playmakers the ball with efficiency is impressive, and with the line providing protection or creating holes for the backs, the Dawgs are a scary bunch on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, Dalton is stupid fast and ugly mean. Against Rittman, the Bulldogs gave up just 101 yards of total offense. Of their past five opponents, only one (Northwestern) has gained more than 200 yards. The defense has the ability to create short fields or to create turnovers, handing the ball right back to the quick strike offense. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Right now, all phases are oiled and ready to do damage.
The Bulldogs and the Bobcats have put themselves in a position to capture the WCAL title. Anyway you look at it, this is going to be fun. Two teams. One shared goal. And one game to decide it all.