WALTON — Lewis Cass football coach Scott Mannering surveyed the poor weather conditions Friday night and decided to take a small gamble.

No. 9-ranked Cass won the coin toss against Tipton before their Class 2A Sectional 28 semifinal round game at Owens Memorial Field. Mannering decided to take the wind instead of the ball, which ultimately meant the Kings kicked off to start the first and second halves.

The gamble worked — Cass controlled field position nearly throughout and came away with a 15-0 win. Damon Foreman had a pair of long touchdown runs and an interception for the winners.

“We knew [potentially having to kick off to open both halves] could be a problem, but we also knew the field condition, field position and wind were going to be big factors,” Mannering said. “We took a gamble that we could maybe kick it in the end zone to start the game, which we did, then our defense held them to [a three-and-out] and they had to punt into the wind. That worked for us.

“I thought the key was we had to do it in the third quarter as well. [Aaron Richardson] had a good [punt] in the third quarter that was huge.”

Heavy rainfall led to worsening field conditions. Strong winds negated any passing plans, making the typically balanced Blue Devils one-dimensional.

“I would have loved to have played this one on a dry field where we could run and pass. Pass was a big part of our game this year. We just couldn’t grip the football,” Tipton coach Aaron Tolle lamented. “I just hate to see it when two good teams get to play [and weather conditions come into play]. I don’t feel like the fans got their money’s worth.”

The Kings gained 257 yards of offense including 244 on the ground. The Blue Devils managed a mere 56 yards of offense.

“Take nothing away from Cass — bottom line, a big part of it was they whipped us up front,” Tolle said. “We couldn’t run the ball on a consistent basis at all. There are going to be situations like [this game] where you have to be able to run the ball and we couldn’t do it.”

Cass (8-3) advances to play backyard rival Northwestern (9-2) in the sectional final next Friday at Northwestern. The Kings beat the Tigers 26-7 in Week 3 for their 10th straight win in the series, but Tiger QB Trevor Gibson missed that game with an injury.

The Kings are gunning for their third straight sectional title.

After the Kings kicked off to open their semifinal game, they forced the Blue Devils into a quick three-and-out. Following a short punt, the Kings took over at the Tipton 45 and Foreman needed just one play to cash in. The King QB rolled out and raced down the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown, breaking two or three tackles along the way. David Watterson added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.

Tipton (8-3) went three-and-out again on its second possession. Cass followed with a 14-play drive that stalled in the red zone and ended on downs, but played a key role in giving the Kings an edge in field position for the rest of the half.

The Kings delivered a knockout punch midway through the second quarter when Foreman broke loose for a 60-yard TD run off a fake punt. Foreman failed to handle the snap cleanly, but quickly gathered the ball, broke to the right sideline and pulled away for the TD.

Matt Eckelbarger offered a nice down-field block to help spring Foreman.

Tipton went three-and-out to start the second half. Cass followed with a drive that stalled at the Tipton 36 — but Richardson delivered the special teams play of the game, a 34-yard punt that pinned the Blue Devils on their 2-yard line. The Blue Devils failed to move the ball, then gave up a safety on their punt attempt. Jason Sheetz recorded the safety for the Kings.

From there, the Kings slammed the door shut for their fourth shutout of the season.

“I thought our linebackers played really well. Our inside guys, [Josh] Knutson and Sheetz, had good games,” Mannering said. “Cody Larimore at defensive end has gotten better every week. He also played well.

“Foreman makes two plays — that’s about all we did [offensively]. We didn’t do much else. The field hurt us too,” Mannering added. “We played the game in their half of the field most of the way and that made the difference.”

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