116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON - Solon's AJ Coons spends most of his time on offense.
However, when the Spartans go to a prevent defense, Coons finds himself on the field.
The rangy 6-foot-3, 180 pounder was sent in near the end of the first half of Friday night's Class 3A playoff game against Decorah as the Vikings were attempting to pass the ball down the field before the break.
On the final play of the half, Coons picked a floating pass out of the air at the Viking 43. He worked his way through several Decorah players, finally dragging a pair across the goal line as the half expired.
The score put the No. 3 Spartans up 21-0 at intermission and they went on to post an impressive 34-2 win on a cold, misty night at Spartan Stadium.
Solon (10-0) advances to the quarterfinals back at home next Friday night against West Delaware. The Hawks advanced with a 20-13 win over Waverly-Shell Rock
'(Solon assistant) Coach (Brent) Sands puts me in for prevent,' Coons said. 'I was just trying to make a play to help our team. I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but once I got to the end zone, I knew I was in.'
Sands' play capped a first half that saw Solon dominate a game Decorah team that finished at 7-3.
'(Sands' play) certainly took the wind out of their sails,' said Spartan Coach Kevin Miller. 'I don't know if it was a turning point, but it was a key play. We had a sense of what they were going to run, kind of a stop and go and AJ just read it.'
A howling crosswind was in Decorah's face to start the game and Solon took advantage, forcing a three-and-out. The Spartans took over and went 72 yards on 11 plays, the score coming on a fourth-down pass from Cam Miller to Coons from 12 yards out.
The Vikings were able to move the ball and appeared to be in line for the tying score when Jack Stahle ripped a pass away from a Viking receiver near the goal line and returned it 58 yards before being bumped out of bounds.
Solon didn't score on that drive, but Decorah never really threatened the Spartan end zone the rest of the way. Coal Flansburg, a brusing 6-foot-2, 230 pounder came in at quarterback and scored on a 2-yard run with 4:51 left in the half to make it 14-0. He added another score midway through the third quarter on a 4-yard run to make it 27-0.
Only a safety where Miller got tackled in the end zone after a punt pinned Solon on its own 1 denied the hosts their seventh shutout of the season.
'I thought our kids competed well, especially in these conditions,' Coach Miller said. 'These were our kind of conditions, nasty and tough and I thought we played that way.
'That said we have to be better. We have to shore up some penalties and be better offensively. We have to be more consistent, but defensively, very pleased.