CASCADE, Iowa — That’s how you make a statement to the playoff field.
Cascade quarterback Justin Roling went 5-for-5 for 194 yards with four touchdowns passing and another rushing as the Cougars scored seven touchdowns in the opening half, blitzing overmatched Wilton at every turn in a 55-0 rout on Friday night in an Iowa Class 1A playoff opener at Cascade High School.
“We played a really good game all the way through,” said Roling, a junior. “We are just getting more comfortable and picking up backers, giving me time to throw. Jack (Menster) is playing his heart out and the wide receivers are playing really strong out there.”
The Cougars (6-2) advanced to the second round next Friday and will host Denver (5-3) at James O’Meara Field. Wilton bowed out at 2-6.
“Wilton’s got some seniors and we thought they’d come out with some emotion, but we took it away from them right away,” Cascade coach Tim Frake said. “Defense came up big with some turnovers and that’s going to be the key if we’re going to go further in the playoffs.”
Jack Menster added 92 yards rushing on 10 carries with two touchdowns for Cascade, as the sophomore running back upped his season totals to 1,483 yards and 20 scores.
“He’s a catalyst for our offense,” Frake said. “People are going to pay attention to him and it’s going to get tougher. He probably wished there were more holes tonight, but he definitely gets it going for us.”
Cascade received the opening kickoff and took only 58 seconds to begin the scoring. After just three plays over 58 yards, Menster scored on a 4-yard run to make it 7-0 at the 10:55 mark of the first quarter.
“We hit a big play and punched it in right away,” Frake said. “That set the tone immediately.”
Following a Beavers three-and-out, it took just three more plays for Roling to find Tanner Simon on a swing pass that the junior speedster took 38 yards to the house to make it 14-0.
After the teams traded punts, Simon snagged an interception off a tip across the middle and raced 34 yards for the pick-six. Wilton then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and on the next play Roling connected with Cael McDermott on a 22-yard touchdown pass that extended the lead to 28-0 with 3:23 left yet in the first quarter.
“Justin gives us more danger in our offense,” Frake said. “He’s understanding the offense more and more and what I expect from him. What he’s seeing from his teammates. He’s making better reads and taking the next steps. We’ve got to keep that going.”
The Cougars enabled running clock just 4 seconds into the second quarter when another Beavers fumble led to a 1-yard TD run by Roling, who followed that with a 60-yard touchdown pass to tight end Luke Ruggeberg down the seam. A 32-yard TD run by Menster made it 48-0 heading into halftime.
Roling found Ruggeberg again for a 32-yard TD hookup midway through the third quarter to cap the scoring.
“It’s a big win, but we have got to keep going,” Roling said. “Next week’s going to be a lot tougher so we’ve got to keep playing together.”