Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – West Branch held Military Appreciation day in conjunction with Friday’s football game. Paratroopers dropped in with the game ball and a giant American flag as hundreds of flag bearing players and fans encircled the field. Later all retired and active duty military personnel in the crowd were feted with a choir singing Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to be an American.”
And still Butch Pedersen upstaged the night by winning his 300th game as Bears football coach.
Pedersen’s team made sure the marquee win came at home with a definitive 56-13 victory over Tipton. It provided a fitting bookend to victory No. 1, which also came against the Tigers in 1983. Pedersen’s record is 300-74 (.802). He is one of only 13 Iowa football coaches to record 300 victories.
“It’s been a blessing for me to be at West Branch,” Pedersen said. “I’ve had great coaches, great fans. Everybody I can possibly think of has been very supportive of this football program.
“Three hundred is really an honor for me because not many people have been able to do that. But most important is my kids and my players, they’re improving and that’s what I like most about this season.”
Players knew what was at stake and relished being the team to capture the milestone.
“It’s huge,” co-captain John Hatfield said. “Butch has done so many things for this program and this community, it just really means a lot to all the players because we really care about him.”
The rout was on from the first Bears offensive play, a 57-yard touchdown pass from Beau Cornwell to Thomas Gould.
Cornwell threw for 237 yards, all in the first half, connecting on 11 of 17 throws to six different receivers.
Running back Tanner Lukavsky rushed for 125 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a 23-yard shovel pass for a TD. Lukavsky ran around, through and over would-be Tiger tacklers.
“That’s what they tell me to do: lower my shoulder on everyone” he said.
Cornwell described Lukavsky’s style: “Hard, vicious, scary. I like handing him the ball and seeing him go to work.”
His 48-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and Cornwell’s extra point triggered the 35-point continuous clock.
“The offensive line really opened up the holes which brought the defenders in which allowed Beau to throw the ball more,” Lukavsky said. “They had to bring it back out, which allowed us to run even more.”
“We’re really dynamic with running and passing so we just try and attack the defense in any way, shape or form,” Cornwell said. “And we’re going to exploit their weaknesses.”
Not to be outdone, the special teams scored a touchdown on a 52-yard punt return by Brett Schiele.
The Bears defense produced three turnovers and held Tipton’s running attack in check. The Tigers’ only TD in the first half came on a jet sweep that wingback Payten Elijah turned into an 88-yard touchdown pass to Frank Bierman.
The second touchdown came against reserves in the final quarter.
“We just tried to stay aggressive the whole game,” Hatfield said. “Keep the pressure on them. We didn’t want to give (Logan Stolte) room to run because that kid is fast.”
“We’ve got a very good defense, and there were some things we wanted to take away tonight and I think we did a good job of that,” Pedersen said. “Our defense has been hitting hard all year long. You saw some really good hits out there tonight.”
As good as the Bears looked, Mr. 300 was not about to slip out of the cautionary appraisals he’s made famous. Although voted No. 1 in class 1A in one statewide poll Pedersen dismissed such talk.
“No. 1 doesn’t mean a whole lot until it’s the end of the year,” he said. “We have a lot of improving to do. We have a lot of tough teams in our district. I think it’s the toughest 1A district in the state.
“They have improved a lot, and they know there’s still a lot of room for improvement. That’s the beauty of high school football. You’re never satisfied. You can keep getting better.”
And that’s how you weather 35-1/2 seasons and compile 300 victories.
First downs 14 19
Rushing-yards 48-201 23-195
Comp-Att-Int 3-7-1 11-18-0
Passing-yards 97 237
Punts-avg. 4-34 1-13
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-55 2-15
WB – Thomas Gould 57 pass from Beau Cornwell (Cornwell kick)
WB – Tanner Lukavsky 1 run (Cornwell kick)
TIP – Frank Bierman 88 pass from Payten Elijah (kick failed)
WB – Lukavsky 12 run (Cornwell kick)
WB – Trey Eagle 39 pass from Cornwell (Cornwell kick)
WB – Lukavsky 23 pass from Cornwell (kick failed)
WB – Brett Schiele 52 punt return (Cornwell kick)
TIP – Blake Wilkins 7 run (Bierman kick)
WB – Wyatt Hamby 15 run (John Yates pass from Cornwell)
RUSHING – TIP: Logan Stolte16-86, Connor Hermiston 7-44, Payten Elijah 5-23, Austin Lenz 5-19, Lake Anderson 5-17, John Crowley 2-14, Davis Butler 2-4, Blake Wilkins 5-(-4), team 1-(-2). WB: Tanner Lukavsky 10-125, Wyatt Hamby 4-29, Beau Cornwell 2-18, Brett Schiele 2-9, Trey Eagle 1-9, Thomas Gould 1-3, John Yates 1-1, Levi Kleinmeyer 1-1.
PASSING – TIP: Payten Elijah 2-3-0-91, Blake Wilkins 1-5-1-6; WB: Beau Cornwell 11-18-0-237.
RECEIVING – TIP: Frank Bierman 1-88, Austin Lenz 1-6, Lake Anderson 1-3. WB: Trey Eagle 3-103, Thomas Gould 1-57, Tanner Lukavsky 3-53, Brady Lukavsky 1-9, Brett Schiele 2-8, Zach Thompson 1-7.
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