Top-ranked Harlan too much for Ballard in first round of 3A playoffs: Bombers fall, 45-0

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Eli Rouse

The Ballard football team had no answers for No. 1 Harlan in the first round of the Class 3A football playoffs Friday at Harlan.

The Bombers were shutout by the unbeaten Cyclones, 45-0.

Harlan used an explosive passing attack and suffocating defense to advance to the quarterfinals with a 10-0 record. Ballard ended its season with a 5-5 record.

"We were thrilled to be back in the playoffs, especially considering how we started the season and the number of injuries we had," Ballard co-head coach Kyle Howard said. "This was a fun season."

Here is what we learned from Ballard's season-ending loss:

Harlan is explosive

Ballard couldn't stop Harlan's high-octane passing attack in the first half. 

The Bombers trailed 38-0 at the break. Harlan broke the game open in the second quarter with 24 points.

"Harlan is very good," Howard said. "They played physical at every position and had great team speed." 

Harlan quarterback Teagon Kasperbauer completed 15 of 18 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Connor Frame caught five passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns as Kasperbauer's top target.

Aidan Hall complemented the big-play passing attack with 100 yards and two touchdowns rushing on just nine carries.

Nick Wacha

Jacob Ihle had six tackles and Jayden Swain and Trevor Kalsem four apiece for Ballard on defense. Nick Wacha added 3.5 stops, including the team's only tackle for loss.

Bomber offense never got going

Without a true quarterback the Ballard offense never mounted a serious threat to Harlan.

The Bombers ended the game with 144 total yards. Most of that production came on the ground as they racked up 116 yards rushing.

Eli Rouse capped an amazing back half to his sophomore season for Ballard with 102 yards rushing on 24 carries. Rouse also completed 2 of 5 passes for 28 yards.

Bryce Haessig made one catch for 17 yards and Caden Miller added one for 11. Gabe Christensen chipped in 15 yards rushing.

Ballard did manage to go the entire game without committing a turnover.

Season was a success

Even though the Bombers came up short in the first round it was still a big accomplishment for them to even reach the playoffs. 

Ballard lost its starting quarterback, top rusher and receivers and most of its offensive line and defense off last year's outstanding 9-2 team that made the 3A quarterfinals before falling to Lewis Central. The Bombers also had to deal with losing this year's starting quarterback — Ashton Hermann — during the Nevada game midway through the season and also not having Iowa recruit Kale Krogh for multiple games due to an ankle injury.

Confidence was also an issue early in the season after opening with losses to Bondurant-Farrar and Adel-Desoto-Minburn and suffering a 40-0 loss to Humboldt and 34-13 setback to Nevada. The loss to Nevada was Ballard's first since 1999.

But despite all that the Bombers rallied to win their final three games of the regular season to earn a playoff berth. That included a big 49-21 win over then 10th-ranked Algona and a wild 43-42 comeback victory over rival North Polk.

"We didn't know what to expect coming into this season with so many new starters," Howard said. "We had lots of kids step up. We are spoiled with such great kids."

Harlan 45, Ballard 0

Ballard      0          0        0        0 — 0

Harlan     14        24        7        0 — 45

Individual statistics

Rushing: Harlan — Aidan Hall 9-100. Ballard — Eli Rouse 24-102.

Passing: Harlan Teagon Kasperbauer 15-18-0-230. Ballard — Rouse 2-5-0-28.

Receiving: Harlan — Connor Frame 5-118. Ballard — Bryce Haessig 1-17.

Tackles: Harlan — Jameson Bieker 8. Ballard — Jacob Ihle 6.