RENSSELAER | There's no truth to the rumor that Bremen's massive offensive line had to stop at a weigh station on the way to Emory Harrison Field for Friday's Class 2A Regional.
Heck, even Lions quarterback Kai Slough weighed 213 pounds.
"Our biggest guy was smaller than their smallest guy," Bombers defensive back Ab Kiger said. "But size doesn't always matter. Coach always preaches speed. You put two big guys against one fast guy and it would be a heck of a fight."
Not this time. The Rensselaer defense ran circles around Bremen's front five, registering five sacks and four turnovers in the Bombers' 24-0 shutout of the Lions.
"They had a good offensive line, but we like our speed on defense," junior Austin Fleming said. "We fly to the ball. We make turnovers."
Fleming recorded three sacks and a tackle for loss to lead the way.
"The pressure was from the whole defensive line. It wasn't just me," Fleming said. "They kept getting pressure and it was freeing me up."
Rensselaer improved its plus-minus turnover ratio to a crazy plus-34 with its two interceptions and two fumble recoveries against the Lions.
"Our defense, when it's on, creates turnovers," coach Chris Meeks said.
Adam Langley capped the scoring with the Bombers' 11th defensive touchdown of the season. The senior linebacker picked up a loose ball after Dalton Souders separated it from Bremen quarterback Kai Slough and weaved his way 11 yards for the first score of his career.
"There was so much excitement, I can't even describe it," Langley said. "I saw the ball and I wasn't sure it was ruled down, but the coaches always tell us, scoop and score."
Kiger blocked a Lucas Schlarb field goal on the Lions' first possession to keep the game scoreless, a crucial play at a point when the Rensselaer offense had yet to get rolling.
"That was huge," Kiger said. "Our nose guard gets his guy separated from the tackle. I just shot the gap straight up the middle and went up for the ball. When teams don't score on us, they start beating themselves."
The last time Rensselaer won a regional in 2010 it also beat Bremen, surviving in overtime.
"The seniors took me to semistate when I was a freshman, so I'm happy we can take the freshmen there now," Langley said.
Fleming doesn't intend for this to be the last celebration.
"I've been dreaming of this my whole life," he said. "Watching them growing up and now it's us, it's awesome. The city's got our backs. There must have been 3,000 people in the stands. They were so loud. We weren't going to let it go in the regional. We're going for a state championship."
Rensselaer travels to Tipton on Friday. The Bombers edged the Blue Devils, 9-7, early in the season, when Tipton didn't have quarterback Austin Hooker.
"Everybody was saying, 'Oh, they didn't have Hooker," Kiger said. "I'd really like to play them again, with him. One final showdown."