Seventh-ranked West High Pounds City High 54-13 in Battle for the Boot

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Pat Harty

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – City High landed the first punch in the Battle for the Boot on Friday, but West High countered with a flurry of haymakers that resulted in a 54-13 victory in the regular-season finale at Trojan Field.

West High was forced to punt on its opening drive of the game and the Little Hawks then marched 71 yards for a touchdown on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead.

The lead lasted less than a minute, however, as sophomore quarterback Marcus Morgan connected with senior receiver Jalen Gaudet for a 79-yard touchdown pass with 6 minutes, 38 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Senior Landon Green then bulled into the end zone for the two-point conversion, giving West High an 8-7 lead.

The Trojans scored 54 consecutive points, including 32 in the second quarter alone, after allowing the early touchdown.

“We just weren’t doing our job,” Green said when asked about City High’s opening touchdown drive. “We didn’t start fast.

“But we woke up.”

The 6-foot-2 Morgan only completed four passes in the first half, but three of them resulted in touchdowns. He also passed for 209 yards in the first two quarters, and then didn’t play in the second half for the second game in a row because West High had such a commanding lead.

“Boy, that quarterback, oh man,” City High coach Dan Sabers said of Morgan. “His ability to scramble and then still keep his eyes down field. I mean man, he’s going to be a problem for us.”

West High finished the regular season with an 8-1 record and will host a first-round game in the Class 4A playoffs next Friday. City High finished with a 2-7 record for the second year in a row.

“They’ve got a hell of a team, they really do,” Sabers said of West High. “We tried to play some press man against them and they gave us a couple different wrinkles and we didn’t handle it so well.

“That’s kind of been the story of our season. We hang in with people for a while and we play good football for a while. And I don’t have a real answer, it just kind of gets away.”

Sabers has been on the winning side of more than his share of games while coaching the Little Hawks, but West High has now won the last two games in the rivalry by lopsided scores.

“I’m a lucky man, there’s no question about that,” Sabers said. “Just think about all the great things I’ve had.

“I feel for the kids, but we know we’ve got some football players here. We just didn’t have enough.”

West High coach Garrett Hartwig didn’t like how his team started Friday’s game, but he gave much of the credit to City High.

“It’s a slap in the face, City High, they came out and hit us in the mouth,” Hartwig said. “They took the lead and they drove down the field a few times on us. It’s just one of those deals where they were ready for the game more so than we were I think coming out.

“It’s something we have to learn from because after tonight every game could be the season-ender. And if you have a bad moment that could cost you the game at the end.”

Hartwig said he wasn’t surprised that City High landed the first punch.

“It didn’t surprise me, City High’s effort,” Hartwig said. “They’re a quality program. I was a little disappointed in our (start).

“And maybe we were playing hard, just give City High credit. They came after us a little bit.”

West High showed tremendous balance in the first half while amassing 403 yards. In addition to Morgan’s 209 passing yards, the Trojans also rushed for 193 yards in the first half, with 80 yards coming on a touchdown run by senior Jason Strunk with 3:36 left in the first quarter.

Strunk blasted through a huge hole up the middle and then raced untouched into the end zone.

In addition to his 79-yard scoring strike to Gaudet in the first quarter, Morgan also threw touchdown passes to Owen McAreavy and Noah Aanestad that covered 31 and 44 yards, respectively, in the second quarter.

Senior Josh Jasek then converted a 37-yard field with 2.7 seconds remaining in the second quarter to give West High a 47-7 lead at halftime.

The entire second half was played with a continuous clock, which goes into effect when a team leads by at least 35 points.

“We’ve got so many weapons and there are so many talented people on this team, that’s what makes this team great,” Aanestad said. “It’s not one star. It’s not one person. It’s everyone. It’s a team.”

Much of the focus heading into the season was on the players that West High lost from last season due to graduation. It was a long and distinguished list of players that included all-state quarterback Evan Flitz and all-state linebacker Dillion Doyle, who now plays for Iowa.

“We’re still here,” Green said. “That’s our senior theme this year. We’re still here.”

                              ICH           ICW

First downs                     11                  16

Rushes-yards              37-134         31-245

Passing yards                88                 244

Penalties-yards            6-35               4-33

Punts                              4-49.9            3-39.3

Fumbles-lost                 1-1                   1-1

City High                7   0   0  6  –  13

West High            15  32  0  7  –  54

ICH – Raph Hamilton 1 run (Ben Steve kick)

ICW – Jalen Gaudet 79 pass from Marcus Morgan (Landon Green run)

ICW – Jason Strunk 80 run (Josh Jasek kick)

ICW – Marcus Morgan 4 run (Morgan run)

ICW – Peter Breitbach 14 run (Jasek kick)

ICW – Owen McAreavy 31 pass from Marcus Morgan (Jasek kick)

ICW – Noah Aanestad 44 pass from Marcus Morgan (Jasek kick)

ICW – Jasek 37 FG

ICW – Joey Kuehn 4 run (Jasek kick)

ICH – Evan Gunder 3 pass from Quincy Wells (Kick failed)

Individual statistics

Rushing ICH: Tonka Hickman 14-57, Max DePrenger 5-42, Raph Hamilton 6-11, Liam McComas 4-11, Ben Steve 1-6, Maisha Sila 2-5, Quincy Wells 4-3, Malik Kimber 1-(-2). ICW: Jason Strunk 2-62, Jalen Gaudet 3-62, Peter Breitbach 10-52, Marchaun Hoover 5-25, Joey kuehn 4-16, Marcus Morgan 4-15, Will Hoeft 2-9, Landon Green 1-3.

Passing  ICH: Raph Hamilton 4-15-2 41, Quincy Wells 3-6-0 34, Max DePrenger 1-1-0 13. ICW: Marcus Morgan 4-9-0 209, Joey Kuehn 3-4-0 35

RECEIVING  ICH: Max DePrenger 2-26, Malik Kimber 2-24, Zach Kuepker 1-13, Liam McComas 1-11, Doug Burtch 1-11, Evan Gunder 1-3. ICW: Tate Crane 2-26, Jalen Gaudet 1-79, Justin Thomas 1-55, Noah Aanestad 1-44, Owen McAreavy 1-31, Ryan Gudenkauf 1-9.

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