PHOTOS BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
Dawgs getting pumped before the game Saturday against Independence at Red Riders stadium.
Dalton’s Max Zoldak blocking for Jaden Schlabach.
Dalton’s Tate Geiser muscles his way into the endzone for a touchdown during the Bulldogs’ second-round playoff game against the Independence Blue Devils in Orrville on Saturday.
Boyd Elett, Grant Johnson and Jaden Schlabach take down the ball carrier.
One of Jaiden Malone’s many interceptions Saturday.
By ZACH McFARREN
DGKN sports writer
ORRVILLE With eight seconds to go in the first half Saturday in Orrville, Dalton quarterback Ethan Stutz took a knee, effectively ending the drive and sending both teams to their respective locker rooms.
That was the only time Dalton failed to score a touchdown until late in the final quarter.
An outmatched Independence Blue Devil team could do nothing to stop the force that is the Dalton offense. In the first half alone, the Bulldogs scored seven touchdowns on seven consecutive possessions. It is difficult to say that Dalton really “drove” the ball against the Blue Devils, as each possession in the opening half lasted less than three minutes. If ever there were a time to call a football game a track meet, this was it. And Jaden Schlabach won every event.
The senior back simply punished the Independence defense. He opened the game by introducing himself to the Devil defense with a 58 yard touchdown run. Schlabach would add two more touchdown runs in the half, the first from three yards and the second from two, which came on the heels of his 79 yard sprint to put the ball deep in Independence territory.
He ended his night with 357 yards on just 14 carries. That’s a ridiculous 25.5 yard average. Add to that his 4 touchdowns and what you have is what they call a really not bad night.
Jaiden Malone also felt right at home on the Orrville turf. The senior defensive back/receiver ran the Independence routes as well as their own receivers. His final numbers? Three interceptions – one in the end zone to negate a Blue Devil threat – and seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball. Malone made several difficult catches look routine, and the Independence defense was at a loss once again.
Throwing Malone the ball was the always steady Stutz. While he threw for just 125 yards, Stutz was deadly accurate, connecting on 11 of 12 passes with both of his touchdowns going to Malone.
Defensively, the Dawgs were tenacious. Although the Blue Devils topped the 200 yard mark, 221 to be exact, they really only threatened to score on three occasions. Halfway through the first quarter, Independence scored their only touchdown of the evening. The other two scoring threats were denied, first when Malone intercepted a pass in the end zone, and the second when Dalton’s second stringers turned away the Blue Devil first teamers late in the fourth quarter.
61-7. Probably not a score most would expect for a second round playoff game. But for Dalton fans, it isn’t coming as a surprise. This team is cruising right now. A disciplined and physical approach is producing the desired outcomes. 12 weeks in, and something special seems to be brewing. Sit back and enjoy. The show is getting pretty good.