Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – During its run of back-to-back state runner-up finishes West High has gotten used to playing in big games over the last two seasons.
At the start of the season few anticipated that the Trojans’ week seven matchup with Davenport North would fit into that big game category.
Fast forward to this week and a big game is exactly what Class 4A seventh-ranked West High is preparing for.
A 5-1 start to the season for Davenport North turned Thursday’s matchup with West High (5-1, 2-0) at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport into a battle for sole possession for first place in Class 4A District 4 and one of the biggest games in North history.
“It’s definitely fun to play in those big games,” West High senior receiver Jalen Gaudet said. “It’s a big game for them and it’s a big game for us for the district lead so we are very excited to get on the field on Thursday.”
Big games have become common for the Trojans over the past several seasons.
West High is 27-5 over the previous three years a stretch that includes an unbeaten regular season and district title last year.
A win over the only other remaining unbeaten team in District 4 on Thursday would put West High firmly in the district drivers’ seat with two games to play.
“They are right under us in the district standings so we obviously want to make a point and show who we are,” West High senior Jason Strunk said. “It’s a regular season game and we have to treat each game the same because we want to win this district. That’s our first goal of the year.”
The surprise high-stakes meeting comes thanks to strong start for the Wildcats.
Davenport North is off to the best start in program history after rallying for a 24-21 road win over City High last week.
The overtime win against City High was the third straight win for Davenport North and the third win this season for the Wildcats coming by six points or less.
“They go hard,” Strunk said. “They go hard every single play and that’s what teams that win do and obviously they are riding a high tide right now but hopefully we can shut that down.”
West High brings its own four-game winning streak to Brady Street Stadium for its first meeting with North since a 42-8 Trojan win in 2015.
The Trojans have scored 31 or more points three times during their current four-game winning streak and are coming off a school-record defensive performance last week holding Linn-Mar to one yard of total offense.
“It goes back to us playing at the level that we expect of ourselves,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “If that means taking a team’s best shot so be it because we like to think that we are giving our opponents our best shot every week.”
Davenport North is led by a trio of juniors in quarterback Jack West, running back Kade Schultz and receiver Priest Sheedy.
West battled through an ankle injury sustained in a week five win over Linn-Mar to throw for a career-high 263 yards in the win over City High.
He has passed for 694 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
Sheedy had nine receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns last week and leads the Wildcats with 32 receptions for 522 yards and five touchdowns.
“They are well organized,” Hartwig said. “They are making smart decisions offensively and they do a good job of taking what’s given to them rather than trying to force it.”
Hartwig said his team is prepared for everything, including a possibly electric environment in what is billed as the biggest game in North history.
“Brady Street has traditionally been a pretty quiet facility but I think it’s going to be pretty exciting Thursday night,” Hartwig said.
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