Thunder Ridge High School all-state senior running back Joel Struckhoff is impressed with the Longhorns at all eight positions.
"Our whole team is stout," Struckhoff said. "We are not weak in any position. We are a team. We are not one individual."
Thunder Ridge had contributions from every spot, especially on defense. Six players either forced a turnover, had a quarterback hurry or had at least one tackle for loss. For the season, six players have between 23 and 35 tackles. Senior linemen Dakota Foreman and Zane Kuhlmann, each returning starters, are tied for the team high. Thunder Ridge improved to 4-0, while Otis-Bison dropped to 3-1.
"It's just a great job by our kids," Thunder Ridge coach Jerry Voorhees said. "They prepare so well. They work so hard each week, but they have fun. One thing that we stress so much each week is we got to take a step every day."
Linebacker Garrett Krueger, the lone starting sophomore, and junior Trevor Lowe, the starting fullback, each played well. Krueger collected a career-high 11 tackles, made his second interception in the last two games, had a pass defended and made a diving catch on a 2-point conversion.
"That kid is just a smart football player," Voorhees said. "A nose for the ball and he is tougher than nails. I mean, tough, tough kid."
Lowe doesn't normally see a lot of time on defense. However, Thunder Ridge inserted the faster 185-pound Lowe for senior 242-pounder Dillon Coomes at nose guard early in the second half to help against Otis-Bison's spread offense.
"It was pretty fun," Lowe said. "I have been practicing all week there."
Lowe, who rushed for 31 yards on offense, collected three tackles and a big hit on Otis-Bison senior quarterback Trevor Keller on fourth down. Lowe has six tackles in the last two games after he had no tackles in the first two weeks.
"The nice thing about Trevor is, he can play linebacker, he can play defensive end, he can play nose, safety," Voorhees said. "We kind of put him in where we need him if somebody goes down or somebody needs a breather, we can put him in, and we are not afraid to put him anywhere. He has worked at every spot, and he is just a great kid to have."
Lowe's hit on Keller ended the Cougars' last offensive threat. With Thunder Ridge leading 22-18, Otis-Bison drove to the Longhorn 32-yard line late in the third quarter. On second-and-3, the Cougars had a bad snap and Coomes -- who moved from nose guard out to end for part of the second half -- sacked Keller. After an incompletion, Lowe broke through the line and had Keller in his grasp. Keller threw the ball and Foreman knocked the ball down to force the turnover on downs.
"He is so smart," Voorhees said. "You put him in and you tell him one thing once and he has got it. The kid plays 100 miles an hour every play. I don't care what he is doing. He is going 100 miles an hour. ... That was a huge hit on him, and a big play for us right there. Great pressure."