Playoff Edition, Quarterfinal Round: UNI-Dome appearance on the line as Union hosts Maquoketa

By Cheyne Reiter

Ever since Joe Hadachek took over as the Knights football coach, there has been nothing but improvement. Just look at the history.

2007 - 6-3
2008 - 7-3 (substate round) No. 3 seed
2009 - 8-3 (1st round) No. 2 seed
2010 - 9-1 (substate round) No. 1 seed
2011 - 9-2 (quarterfinal+?) No. 2 seed

The 2011 version of the Union Knights will look to take the team to a place they've never been before, the UNI-Dome.

Tomorrow night, the Knights play host to the 10-1, 3A D5 No. 1 seed Maquoketa Cardinals in what will be another absolute thriller.

In week 6 of the regular season, the Cardinals traveled to La Porte City to take on the Knights and overpowered them in a 35-15 triumph.

Give Maquoketa credit. They outplayed the Knights in every aspect; offense, defense, and special teams. Coach Hadachek said it simply during the Press Box Radio postgame interview, "we were outmatched."

Granted, possibly the most electrifying running back in the entire state, Wes Burnside, was at roughly 75% as he was recovering from a nagging hamstring injury. In addition, Trev Hadachek suffered a shoulder injury just two weeks earlier at CC-DeWitt, missed the Anamosa game, and made his first ever start at wide receiver vs. the Cardinals. To add to the list, Jay Scheel was making only his second start at QB against one of the top teams in the state.

Regardless, you go to play with what you got, and on that Friday night, Maquoketa handed it to the Knights in every aspect.

This time around for Union, there will be no excuses.

Burnside is at 100%, and the Scheel-to-Hadachek combination has been nearly flawless. Maquoketa knows the Knights are at full strength, the question is, can they stop the three-headed monster once again?

In just six games at receiver, Hadachek has racked up 31 receptions for 513 yards and five touchdowns as Scheel's favorite target. Rushing also hasn't been an issue for the Knights since their last defeat at the hands of Maquoketa. After an uncharacteristic 49 yards on the ground vs. the Cardinals, Burnside has rushed for no less than 146 yards in the following five victories.

Offensively, the Knights will need to control the line of scrimmage if Burnside wants to get the ball rolling. Adjustments up front have been made; it'll be interesting to see if those pay dividends tomorrow night.

Defensively against Maquoketa, Union was unable to slow QB Chase Coakley (87 yards) and RB Craig Johnson (210 yards, 2 TD) running the ball. The read option confused the Knights all night long. When not using his legs, Coakley shredded the Union defense through the air, connecting on 11-17 throws for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Tomorrow night, I expect a much closer, contested battle up until the finish. Union's motto 'Leave a Legacy' was on full display last week in Solon as this 2011 team took Knight football to a place it's never been before, the quarterfinals.

Think a UNI-Dome appearance isn't on their minds? Think again.