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Final Four: Hornets Dominate Athens To Advance In Class 2A IHSA Playoffs

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Senior running back Hunter Schultze stiff arms a Athens defender in Nashville’s 35-14 playoff win this past Saturday. Schultze surpassed Justin Morris as the Hornets all-time career offense leader. The Hornets will now face Auburn next Saturday for a chance to play in the State Championship game.

By Brent Huelsmann

The Nashville Hornets used another strong start, to put away their opponent in the IHSA Class 2A Playoffs. The Hornets faced off against the Athens Warriors this past Saturday at Hornet Field. The Hornets used a stingy first half defense and a balanced offense to defeat Athens 35-14.

The Hornets got on the board on their first drive of the game, methodically moving down the field. A big third down conversion, on a pass interference call, and a big fourth down play in which Andrew Kash found Royce Newman for 22 yards set up the Hornets inside the Warriors 15 yard line. Three plays later, Kash found Hunter Schultze for a 9 yard touchdown to give the Hornets the lead. An extra point by Jaris Dalman made the lead 7-0.

On the first drive, history was made as senior Hunter Scultze passed Justin Morris as the Hornets' all time career offense leader. Morris racked up 3,771 yards during his tenure at Nashville High School. Morris played for Nashville from 1997-99. Schultze came into the game needing less than 20 yards to get the record. Going into next week's game, Schultze has gained 3,906 yards in his career at Nashville High School. Schultze wouldn't take the credit after the game, “it's exciting, but like I've said before, it's all to do with the line. It's not me, you know the lines I've had in the past years, and the line I have this year, these guys haven't started ever, and they came out this year and just dominated, it's awesome.” Schultze went on to say “it's important to get the record, but it's not what I'm looking for, the win is everything.” Coach Kuhn admitted that's he's been spoiled by Schultze, being able to see him everyday in practice. “ He's been such a central part of our success since the start of his sophomore year. There's just so many things he can do, and he does them so naturally.”

After punting the ball away on their second drive, the Hornets offense struck quick on their third drive. A pass from Kash to Schultze set the Hornets up on the 5 yard line, senior Kyle Schnitker ran the ball in on the very next play. The extra point by Dalman, gave the Hornets a 14-0 lead.

The defense for the Hornets swarmed the Warriors in the first half. On the Warriors next drive, Athens quarterback Nick Hanner fumbled the ball, and senior linebacker Bryce Paszkiewicz recovered the ball, giving the ball back to the Hornet offense. After a Nashville punt, the Hornets defense struck again. This time Nick Hanner's pass was picked off by Ethan Reid, Reid took the ball down the sideline for the a 60 yard touchdown. The interception return marked the first defensive touchdown of the season for the Hornets. Reid talked about the play after the game “ he threw it to him, and he tipped it and it ended up coming right to me, and I went around to the left and there was no one there.” The Hornets went into halftime with a commanding 21-0 lead.

Coming out in the second half, the Hornets offense stalled, and a bad punt gave the Warriors the ball in Hornets territory. The Warriors got a lucky break on the drive as the Hornets were called for a faceguarding penalty on fourth down, giving the Warriors a first and goal at the six yard line. The Warriors would punch the ball in three plays later to trim Nashville's lead to 14 points.

The Hornets grabbed the momentum back on their next drive as the Hornets ran the ball down the field with Schultze, Schnitker, and Reid before Royce Newman ran the ball in from 1 yard out to push the Nashville lead to 21 points.

The Warriors got another short field on their next drive, starting on the 50 yard line. A big fourth down conversion, gave Athens the ball inside the Hornets 20 yard line. Another fourth down conversion gave the Warriors first and goal on the Hornets five yard line. Two plays later the Warriors again chipped into the Hornets lead making it 28-14 in the fourth quarter.

A Hornets three and out, gave the ball back to Athens with a chance to make it a one score game. Once again the Hornets defense stepped up. Facing a first and goal, the Hornets defense prevented the Warriors from scoring as Schultze tackled Warriors running back Hunter Maxwell for a six yard loss on third and goal, and Warriors quarterback Nick Hanner's pass fell incomplete on fourth down.

The Hornets got the ball back on their own 11 yard line. After two straight running plays got no gain, the Hornets faked the run on third down, and Kash threw back to Newman, and Newman ran 89 yards to the endzone to give the Hornets a 35-14 lead with 2:00 left in the game. Athens coach Ryan Knox admitted to being caught off guard after the game, “we told them in the huddle that they were going to run ball, so let’s get a stop and come after the punt because we were out of timeouts,” he said. “But credit them that was a hell of a call.” After the game, Newman took credit for the call, “ I told coach Kuzusek, that they were coming hard and I figured if we did a little screen that it would work. They came hard and we burned them on it.”

One last drive for Athens was stopped as Ethan Reid got his second interception to end the game and send the Hornets to the Final Four.

After the game, Coach Kuhn talked about the team. “ It probably won't hit me til a month from now.” He went on to say “I just can't talk enough about the effort of this team, and this coaching staff, it's unbelievable.”

Saturday was the final home game for the Hornets this season, and Coach Kuhn talked about the atmosphere, praising Mr. Brown and the band in the west end zone, and the students in the east end zone. “It's a great atmosphere for high school football.”

The Hornets were outgained in the game by Athens 323-315 Offensively the Hornets were led on the ground by Schulte with 16 carries for 72 yards, Schnitker added 12 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown, Grant Reed had 6 yards for the Hornets, Ethan Reid had 4 yards, and Newman had 2 yards and a touchdown on his only carry. Through the air, Kash was 9-15 for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. Royce Newman, led the team with 3 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, Schultze had 4 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Reid had 2 catches for 26 yards.

Defensively, Reid had two big interceptions, and the first defensive touchdown of the season for the Hornets. Paszkiewicz had a fumble recovery in the game. The defensive line got after the quarterback, notching 6 sacks in the game. Newman and Dalman each had 2. Gable Evans and Erik Harkness each had a sack.

The Hornets move on to face off against the Auburn Trojans. The Trojans defeated undefeated Pana 20-7 last week. Auburn marks the third time during the playoffs in which the Hornets will face a team from the Sangamo conference. The Hornets defeated New Berlin in the first week of the playoffs before beating Athens last week. The Trojans are 9-3 on the season, and have beaten Shelbyville, Villa-Grove, and Pana thus far in the playoffs. The Hornets knocked Auburn out of the playoffs in 2009.

Royce Newman takes down the Warriors quarterback, as Chase Stanowski closes in.

the Warriors first and goal on the Hornets five yard line. Two plays later the Warriors again chipped into the Hornets lead making it 28-14 in the fourth quarter.

A Hornets three and out, gave the ball back to Athens with a chance to make it a one score game. Once again the Hornets defense stepped up. Facing a first and goal, the Hornets defense prevented the Warriors from scoring as Schultze tackled Warriors running back Hunter Maxwell for a six yard loss on third and goal, and Warriors quarterback Nick Hanner's pass fell incomplete on fourth down.

The Hornets got the ball back on their own 11 yard line. After two straight running plays got no gain, the Hornets faked the run on third down, and Kash threw back to Newman, and Newman ran 89 yards to the endzone to give the Hornets a 35-14 lead with 2:00 left in the game. Athens coach Ryan Knox admitted to being caught off guard after the game, “we told them in the huddle that they were going to run ball, so let’s get a stop and come after the punt because we were out of timeouts,” he said. “But credit them that was a hell of a call.” After the game, Newman took credit for the call, “ I told coach Kuzusek, that they were coming hard and I figured if we did a little screen that it would work. They came hard and we burned them on it.”

One last drive for Athens was stopped as Ethan Reid got his second interception to end the game and send the Hornets to the Final Four.

After the game, Coach Kuhn talked about the team. “ It probably won't hit me til a month from now.” He went on to say “I just can't talk enough about the effort of this team, and this coaching staff, it's unbelievable.”

Saturday was the final home game for the Hornets this season, and Coach Kuhn talked about the atmosphere, praising Mr. Brown and the band in the west end zone, and the students in the east end zone. “It's a great atmosphere for high school football.”

The Hornets were outgained in the game by Athens 323-315 Offensively the Hornets were led on the ground by Schulte with 16 carries for 72 yards, Schnitker added 12 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown, Grant Reed had 6 yards for the Hornets, Ethan Reid had 4 yards, and Newman had 2 yards and a touchdown on his only carry. Through the air, Kash was 9-15 for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. Royce Newman, led the team with 3 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, Schultze had 4 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Reid had 2 catches for 26 yards.

Defensively, Reid had two big interceptions, and the first defensive touchdown of the season for the Hornets. Paszkiewicz had a fumble recovery in the game. The defensive line got after the quarterback, notching 6 sacks in the game. Newman and Dalman each had 2. Gable Evans and Erik Harkness each had a sack.

The Hornets move on to face off against the Auburn Trojans. The Trojans defeated undefeated Pana 20-7 last week. Auburn marks the third time during the playoffs in which the Hornets will face a team from the Sangamo conference. The Hornets defeated New Berlin in the first week of the playoffs before beating Athens last week. The Trojans are 9-3 on the season, and have beaten Shelbyville, Villa-Grove, and Pana thus far in the playoffs. The Hornets knocked Auburn out of the playoffs in 2009.