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The fog of (gridiron) war

IOWA CITY– A 21-7 lead vaporized into the mist of a foggy night for the West High Trojans as they fell 38-24 to the Pleasant Valley (PV) Spartans Friday, Oct. 24, at home. The loss was doubly bitter for the Trojans as the Spartans claimed the Class 4A District 7 championship (with a 4-0 record in district play and 6-3 record overall), and did so on West High’s Senior Night.
The Trojans stormed onto the field to open the contest and scored on their first drive as Xavier Koch caught an Aaron Bleil pass for a touchdown just three and-a-half minutes into the game. Connor Gordon’s extra point kick made it a 7-0 ballgame, but with 3:05 left in the period the Spartans tied with a short hop over the goal line.
Yeshuwa Hicks scored twice for the Trojans in the second quarter, the first with an approximately 10-yard run and the second on an approximately 15-yard run that ended with him back-pedaling and ultimately crossing the goal line while running backwards. Gordon put up both extra point kicks and West had the 21-7 lead. Again though, the Spartans battled back, scoring with 36 seconds left to play in the first half. A good extra point kick made it 21-14 as fog rolled in over the field.
The Spartans dominated the third quarter, scoring twice to take a 28-21 lead. Pleasant Valley had the ball as the quarter neared its end and scored as time ran out. However a holding penalty on the Spartans negated the touchdown and put them back on West’s 19-yard line on third down for one play. The fourth quarter opened with the Spartans booting in a field goal in the first four seconds for a 31-21 lead.
West fought through the dense fog, but was forced to settle for a field goal with 7:52 remaining in the ball game. With 2:47 remaining, the Spartans scored again on a 1-yard leap across the goal line.
“They got some momentum,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said about losing the 21-7 lead. “Our philosophy is ‘play to win,’ so they got a big play out of some of the mistakes we made late in the second quarter.” He added there were no regrets other than, “we just didn’t execute.” In the third quarter, “they took it to us,” he said. “We didn’t come out very well (in the second half) and that’s on me as the head coach, and the coaching staff to make sure we prepare better for the second half.”
Hartwig credited the Spartans’ effort saying, “they played hard, they played very well. They’re well-coached, they’re tough… and they’re a good play-off team, they’ll make some noise.” While any loss is tough on a team, Hartwig said this loss was tougher than most. “This was for a lot, district championship and what-not. The best thing about this loss is that we don’t have time to dwell on it.”
The Trojans entered post-season play on Wednesday, Oct. 29, as the Trojans entertained Ottumwa, the No. 3 Seed out of District No. 6.
“Tonight (Friday) at 2:30 a.m., whenever the (playoff) brackets come out, everybody is 0-0,” Hartwig said.

West High stats:
Rushing: Kevin Dowell 9-72, Yeshuwa Hicks 12-50-2, Michael Krupp 3-21, Tyler Eads 2-17, Aaron Bleil 6-7.
Passing: Bleil 16-29-195.
Receiving: Alex Henderson 9-105, Oliver Martin 4-67, Eads 2-15, Xavier Koch 1-8-1.
Tackles: (Solo, Assists) John Milani 7-13, Donovan Doyle 3-8, Conner Greene 2-7, Max Brown 1-6, Dowell 0-6, Mitch Yoerger 0-6, Bryson Adcock 5-0, Eads 2-4, Gabe Huinker 3-3, Chase Blatz 0-3, Koch 0-2, Blake Moser 0-2, Barrett Weihe 0-2, Griffin Blackhurst 0-1, Michael Krupp 0-1, Alejandro Lopez 0-1, Joe Ranard 0-1.
Kick off returns: Eads 3-50, Martin 2-27, Jon Raley 1-5, Thad Nelson 1-0.

Final District No. 7 Standings
Pleasant Valley 4-0, 6-3
IC West 3-1, 5-4
Dubuque Hempstead 2-2, 6-3
Davenport Central 1-3, 4-5
Davenport North 0-4, 1-8