By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY– Brian Sauser had been waiting two years for a night like this. The coach of the West High Trojans, Sauser remembered all too well a meeting with the Bettendorf Bulldogs two years ago at West in near-constant rain, mud and wind. It was a meeting which didn’t pan out so well for West as they were knocked out of contention for a state championship bid.
The same conditions faced his Trojans Wednesday, Oct. 30, in a Class 4A first round bout with Dubuque Hempstead. The teams had met just a few weeks before at West in a game where the Mustangs threatened to upset the then-undefeated Trojans. But for a winning touchdown in the final minute, it might have happened.
“We went back and evaluated what we were doing, especially on defense last time,” Sauser said, after a 69-7 pounding of the Mustangs. “We really needed to get more movement in our defensive line. We really thought we could get in their backfield and make them cut before they wanted to.”
And did they ever. West’s first possession, receiving the opening kick-off, found them in Dubuque’s end zone three plays later as quarterback Nate Boland scampered 4 yards to score the first of three touchdowns. The second Trojan possession ended with Devin Raffensperger running in from about 18 yards out. Then there was Anthony Batie. After the Trojan defense had stopped yet another Hempstead drive cold (and wet) in its tracks, the Mustangs punted the ball away and Batie was waiting for it. Once he got hold of it, it was off to the races 68 yards to score the third touchdown of the first quarter. With Connor Gordon’s three kicks, the Trojans had a 21-0 lead.
Four more touchdowns from Boland (38-yard run), Micah Kelsay (64-yard run), Raffensperger (1-yard run) and a 41-yard run from Boland, with dead-on extra point kicks by Gordon, put West up an almost unbelievable 49-0 at the half. Sauser was heard to say, “Wow. I never saw that coming.”
It was wholesale substitutions and a continuous clock for the Trojans in the second half with Tyler Eads in at quarterback. The Mustangs reared up and sent Talon Zimmerman to the house on an 80-yard run to open the third quarter. It was the first Hempstead drive to cross the 50-yard line of the night, and would be their only touchdown.
The Trojans readjusted and put up a lucky 13 points in the quarter as Clay Moel bulldozed his way across the line for six points and Michael Krupp scored on a 4-yard run. Zach Ranshaw nailed the extra point on Krupp’s touchdown while the kick was blocked after Moel’s.
In the fourth, Mason Koch scored the final touchdown of the night, and again Ranshaw nailed the kick. In the final minutes, the Trojans found themselves within striking distance again with a first down. However, quarterback Donovan Doyle took a knee for all four downs, turning the ball over to Dubuque deep in its own territory with about a minute to go.
The Mustangs end the season with a 4-6 record while the Trojans improved to 9-1 ahead of a Monday, Nov. 4, meeting with Bettendorf at West High with a 7 p.m. kick-off.
Sauser took the win in stride, chalking it up to the obvious, “our guys up front dominated on both sides of the ball. For two years we’ve been building for a night like this. We came out of that game that night saying we’re not going to be caught again being one-dimensional. I saw the forecast, and I thought this would be an interesting test for us to see if we can line up against a good team and just pound the football.”
Rushing– A. Batie, 1-minus 1. N. Boland, 11-205. D. Doyle, 3-minus 3. T. Eads, 2-19. C. Greene, 1-20. Y. Hicks, 1-9. M. Kelsay, 5-88. M. Koch, 7-23. C. Moel, 6-42. K. Payne, 2-8. D. Raffensperger, 11-108. J. Sanderson, 1-5. R. Swartzendruber, 1-5.
Passing– Boland, 3-6-55.
Receiving– Batie, 2-44. O. Martin, 1-11.