Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Head coach: Butch Pedersen (36th season, 296-77)
Assistant coaches: John Hierseman, Tyler Bailey, Kevin Crosthwaite, Kevin Braddock, Austin Finnegan, Jack Rummells, Matt Hills, Jason Kern, Dave Kabela, Drew Cornwell, Luke Posivio
Last season: 9-1 (Class 1A Opening Round)
Returning Starters: Beau Cornwell, Sr., QB; Tanner Lukavsky, Jr., LB/RB; Jeff Bowie, Soph., T/DE; Jaden Hierseman, Sr., C; Dalyn Pedersen, Jr., G; Brett Schiele, Sr., DB/WR; John Hatfield, Sr., LB.
Newcomers to watch: Thomas Gould, Fr., WR/DB; Trey Eagle, Jr., WR/DB; Wyatt Gooddale, Jr., WR/DB; Drake Bloem, Sr., OL/DL; Javier Zumudio, Sr., OL/DL; Matt Paulsen, Jr., G/DE; Brad Hunter, Jr., LB/G; Wyatt Hamby, Jr., DT/FB.
Playoff history: 25 appearances (1988-1996, 1998, 2000, 2002-2005, 2008-2017). West Branch won Class 1A titles in 1989, 1991, 1992.
District: Class 1A, District 4
District favorites: West Branch
Circle the date: September 7 vs. Williamsburg. West Branch hosts defending 2A runner-up Raiders in a marquee non-district matchup.
Headliner: In his first full season under center Beau Cornwell rewrote the West Branch passing record book, throwing for a school-record 2,125 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes last season as a junior.
Unsung hero: John Hatfield (5-8, 170) led the Bears in tackles last season as a junior with 63 including nine for loss.
Keep an eye on: Junior running back Tanner Lukavsky is a nice fit in the West Branch offense rushing for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns and catching 17 passes for 162 yards and three scores last season.
Biggest question: How quickly can the Bears’ young offensive and defensive lines get up to speed? West Branch has some holes to fill on both lines but the Bears also have the players to plug into those spots. Those first-year starters will be tested early with two of the first three games against Class 2A playoff teams from a year ago (West Liberty and Williamsburg).
Quotable: “Our depth this year is as good as we’ve had for the last five or six years. Especially at the skill positions we have a lot of different people that we can throw the ball to and we have quite a few running backs that are pretty good.” West Branch coach Butch Pedersen.
Aug. 24: West Liberty
Aug. 31: @ Wapello
Sept. 7: Williamsburg
Sept. 14: Tipton
Sept. 21: @ Bellevue*
Sept. 28: North Cedar*
Oct. 5: @ Northeast*
Oct. 12: Cascade*
Oct. 19: @ Dyersville Beckman*
*- District Game