IOWA CITY– The West High varsity football juggernaut continued on its winning way Friday night, rolling over rival City High 44-0 in the annual Battle for The Boot.
The win returned the bronzed boot traveling trophy to the Trojan’s trophy case for the first time in eight years. The significance of a perfect 7-0 (4-0 in the MVC Mississippi Division) record, defeating their rival and bringing home The Boot was not lost on the players, coaches or fans.
“It’s hard for me to even put into words,” said coach Brian Sauser, a man rarely at a loss for words.
“Everything we’ve done the last nine months has led to this,” said senior captain Sam McLeran. “You earn every minute of it. We earned the right to be here. We earned the right to play with confidence. That’s exactly what we did.”
West’s first drive to the goal line was stopped short, forcing the Trojans to attempt a field goal. Jeremy Morgan nailed the kick from 27 yards out to put West on the scoreboard. After that, it was all West.
“We pounded the ball and pounded the ball and pounded the ball,” Sauser said of the Trojan ground war, which racked up 320 yards.
With less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, Reid Bonner returned a City High punt 60 yards to score a touchdown. Morgan’s kick was true and West had a 10-0 lead.
Ezra Reiners evaded the Little Hawks for a 77-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to build the lead. Again Morgan nailed the extra point kick and the Trojans had a 17-0 lead. Later in the quarter sophomore Connor Greene took the ball in for 6 yards and another Trojan touchdown. Once again Morgan’s kick was gold, and West led 24-0 at the halftime break.
In the third quarter, Devin Raffensperger scored on a 15-yard run, but the point after kick was blocked for a 30-0 lead. Dondre Alexander took a 53-yard pass from Nate Boland to score with 5:17 left in the period. Morgan’s kick was good and with the 37-point lead, the continuous clock was activated.
Clay Moel put the final nail in City High’s coffin, scoring on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter. Once again Morgan launched his kick through the uprights and West had the 44-0 lead as the final minutes ticked down. Once the clock ran out, the Trojans swarmed the field with Ezra Reiners dashing to the Little Hawk sideline to claim The Boot. With great jubilation, the team carried their prize to the student section, sharing the win with their fans.
“We got the boot. We got the boot.” echoed through the cold night air.
“You put up with four years of crap, and everybody talks ‘you guys can’t do this, and you guys can’t do that.’ You keep plugging away and you keep believing that if you do things right, eventually it will be your night,” Sauser said.
“Finally, we get the boot back where it belongs,” said McLeran.
Reiners led West in rushing with 10 carries for 152 yards, Raffensperger had seven for 63 and Bonner had one for 41 yards. Jessie Peterson carried the mail four times for 21 yards; Moel had two carries for 21 yards. Orion Phillips, Tavian Smith, Greene and Micah Kelsay also had carries for the night.
Boland completed four of 10 passes for 98 yards. Alexander had two receptions for 80 yards, Morgan caught one pass for 16 and Colin Baker had one pass for two yards.
“Tonight was our night. We dominated every phase of the game,” the coach said, summing up the momentous occasion. The Trojans will entertain Cedar Rapids Jefferson Friday night, Oct. 12, for Homecoming and Senior Night before finishing the regular season on the road at Waterloo East on Friday, Oct. 19.