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Abbotsford thumps Thorp 27-7

Abbotsford thumps Thorp 27-7 Abbotsford thumps Thorp 27-7

First team in history to end year with a W

It might have looked like your typical football game on Thursday, but the 2020 Abbotsford Falcons achieved something no other program has ever done before.

With their 27-7 victory over the Thorp Cardinals this year’s Falcons became the first team in program history to end a season with a win.

Oh sure, there wasn’t a big trophy or state title waiting for them at the end of the game in Thorp last week, but any opportunity to play a game is a victory in the minds of every Falcon that suited up.

“It means everything,” senior linebacker Bryce Draper said after the game. “I love all these guys and it’s honestly the cherry on top of the cake. We end the season on a win. Whether or not it was in playoffs or state, it happened.”

The win also improved Abby to 3-3 on the year, extending their winning season streak to seven straight seasons. In a year marred by COVID-19, Thursday’s game represented a very bright spot, and although it wasn’t a playoff appearance, the Falcons played as though a state title was on the line.

“Just proud of them for playing through lots of things out of their control,” Falcons head coach Jake Knapmiller said afterwards. “We had injuries, COVID, violations etc., and they showed up willing to work and be flexible and have fun. If they can get through this fall unfazed, they will be able to handle lots of things life will throw at them!”

Knapmiller could not be on hand, and neither was senior Cade Faber, but the Falcons rolled with the changes, made adjustments, and had players step up in the big moments.

The Falcons got the party started on their opening drive, chewing up almost the entire first quarter on an 18-play drive that brought them to within a whisker of the end zone.

The Cardinals showed their resiliency, and stopped the Falcons on fourth down, and took over on their four-yard line. The Falcons failed to stop Thorp’s Aiden Rosemeyer on a QB keeper, and Rosemeyer sprinted downfield for a 53-yard run. Four plays later and Thorp capped off its 96-yard drive with a touchdown and PAT that made it 7-0 in the opening moments of the second quarter.

It didn’t take long for Abby to answer. The Falcons got on the board for the first time thanks to an eight play, 61-yard drive that ended on a catch and run from Hunter Soyk to Mason Carpenter.

Soyk found Carpenter in stride, and Mason sprinted the 22-yards for Abby’s first score of the night. The PAT failed, but Abby was down just 7-6.

Thorp took over, but after that 96-yard drive, the Falcons effectively stopped the Cardinals in their tracks, utilizing a strong pass rush that took away time from Rosemeyer, and a stout run game that held Thorp to just 39 rushing yards and under 100-yard of total offense.

“We had two people coming off the edge, so [Rosemeyer] had no time in the pocket and no time to pass because we were bringing pressure,” Draper said. “We got hit on the first drive, but stopped them after that, and they stalled out and we were able to force some turnovers.”

The Falcons forced a punt, and went on a six play, 45-yard drive that ended with Soyk streaking into the end zone untouched from six yards out. Carpenter muscled his way into the end zone for a two point conversion and Abby took a 14-6 lead.

After one half of play, and after Thorp’s only scoring drive, the Falcons were in control of the game, racking up nearly 200 yards of offense in the first half.

The big surprise was freshman JV Castillo and his offensive play-making ability. Castillo might be somewhat undersized, but his open field tackles saved potential touchdowns and first downs, as the Falcons did not give up a single third or fourth down conversion.

But on Thursday, Castillo was tasked to tote the ball, and his speed and smooth running resulted in 42-yards on just nine carries. It was a preview of things to come, with Castillo picking up where he left off in the third quarter.

The Falcons took the opening kick off in the second half and proceeded to march down the field on another methodical drive. Soyk converted a crucial fourth down, and Castillo busted off his biggest play of the night on the next play.

Angel Diaz and Martin Aguilera drove back a pair of would be Thorp tacklers, and Castillo took advantage, flying into the end zone from 21-yards out as he notched the first varsity touchdown of his prep career.

“JV Castillo, that man is a stud!” Draper said, showering the freshman with high praise. “He’s going to be a spectacu- lar football player and has the potential to be one of the best in Abbotsford. He had big contributions tonight, and that’s huge to get, especially from a freshman.”

The Falcons missed the PAT, but their defense continued to swarm Thorp, and Abbotsford went into the fourth quarter with a 20-7 lead.

Thorp got the ball back, but Aguilera delivered a huge sack for a huge loss of yards, and the Cardinals were forced to punt deep in their own territory. The punt failed to go very far, and the Falcons continued to pound the rock.

Castillo picked his way up the sideline for another long run that set the Falcons up for another potential score, but a penalty and several tackles for loss made it 4th and 11. Draper hauled in a reception from Soyk, but was stopped just shy of the first down marker, and the Cardinals took over on their own four yard line.

The last time Thorp was there, it resulted in a touchdown, but there would be no repeat. Thorp picked up a first down on a penalty, but with the third quarter coming to a close, and down 20-7 after three, the Cardinals were running out of time.

Castillo made a great open field tackle on third and long to start the fourth quarter that brought up fourth and long, and Thorp shanked the punt, giving Abby great field position on the Cardinals’ 47yard line.

Carpenter snapped off a big run that put Abby in the Red Zone, but Abby turned the ball over on downs.

Thorp’s hopes for a score were shortlived, and after failing to get their ground game going, Thorp turned to the air, but Aguilera picked the ball off and rumbled deep into Cardinal territory, giving Abby another crack at the end zone.

“It helped us a lot, getting that pressure on their quarterback,” Angel Diaz said about the turnovers. “Hunter Soyk and Martin Aguilera put pressure on him and held them back.”

On the first play of the drive, Soyk called his own number, and got more great blocks up field as he rumbled and stumbled his way into the end zone for the Falcons’ final score of the night.

Aguilera’s PAT made it 27-7 with 8:16 to play. Thorp continued to air the ball out, but turned the ball over on downs and from there the Falcons subbed in several JV players. Preston Bunkleman rattled off a 25-yard play late in the fourth quarter, and senior Ryan Gunderson made a few carries for positive yardage to end the game, and with it, the season.

The Falcons finished with 337 yards of total offense. Soyk finished with five of seven for passing, with 85-yards and one touchdown. Carpenter hauled in four passes for 75-yards and the score.

Draper had one reception for ten yards. Castillo’s break out night featured 90-yards on 14 carries and one score. Soyk had 13 carries for 94-yards and two rushing touchdowns. Carpenter added 38 rushing yards, Bunkleman had one carry for 25-yards and Ryan Gunderson added five yards on the ground.

For the seniors, while the season did not go as planned, to end the year on a victory, and lay claim as the first Abbotsford squad to do so, was the perfect end to four years in a Falcons uniform.

“It feels great,” Diaz said. “We made history, the first time in Abbotsford to finish the season on a win.”

Abbotsford bids goodbye to over a dozen seniors, but based on the play of thos year’s freshman and sophomores, many of those seniors feel the program will be good to go in 2021.

“I think Abbotsford is in a good place, it’s just up to them to work for it,” senior lineman Keith Kalepp said. “Nothing comes easy, you gotta take some punches as you go. We did that this year, and we got knocked down. Hopefully we showed the grit inside of us, that we got back up and kept going.”

BREAKOUT PLAYER - JV Castillo had a breakout performance against Thorp, rushing for 90 yards and scoring the first TD of his varsity career.

TAKEDOWN - Byrce Draper (#4) tackles Logan Hanson. Abby held Thorp to under 100 yards of offense.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT -Senior tailback Ryan Gunderson gets a pair of blocks as he carries the ball for five yards during the Falcons post-season meeting with the Thorp Cardinals last week. The Falcons put forth their best games of the season, becoming the first Falcons squad to end a season with a victory.STAFF PHOTOS/ROSS PATTERMANN

ONE LAST STATEMENT -Mason Carpenter lowers his helmet and powers forward for an Abbotsford first down last week. Carpenter had another big game for the Falcons, scoring one touchdown as he led Abby with a team high 75 yards on four receptions in his final game in a Falcons uniform.