Opening Round Rewind: Road Trip Doesn't Both West Branch in Opening Round

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

The reward for an 8-1 regular season for West Branch was a 160-mile road trip for a Class 1A opening round playoff matchup with Osage.

West Branch didn’t let the two and half our bus ride turn into an excuse or a distraction on its way to an impressive 56-14 win over Osage.

“We talked all week long you get in the playoffs and it is an honor to be there so let’s get on the bus and let’s go,” West Branch coach Butch Pedersen said.

West Branch broke the nearly three-hour trip to Osage in half, making a brief stop in Cedar Falls on the way.

The stop allowed the players a chance to stretch their legs, eat and break up the longest trip of the season.

“We decided to split the trip into two halves, we drove from West Branch to Cedar Falls and had a light meal there and then we finished the drive and I think that was good,” Pedersen said. “We let them limber up a little bit and I thought that was a good move on our part.”

The travel didn’t seem to affect West Branch (9-1) after kickoff.

West Branch rolled up 489 yards of total offense and matched its season high for points while snapping a two-game playoff losing streak.

“It didn’t really affect us,” West Branch senior quarterback Beau Cornwell said. “We just knew we had to stay focused on the bus ride and go out and get a W.”

The win was the fifth straight for sixth-ranked West Branch and sends the Bears back to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015 where it faces another significant road trip.

West Branch travels to defending state champion and third-ranked Van Meter (10-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.

“It gives us some confidence, we showed that a bus ride isn’t going to affect us,” Cornwell said. “We are going to go in there and do our thing.”

Another Passing Record: Beau Cornwell has already left his mark on the West Branch passing record book.
The senior quarterback added another record on Friday with three touchdown passes against Osage breaking the single-season record for touchdown passes.

Cornwell has 23 touchdown passes this season, breaking the previous record of 20.

Big Boot: West High sophomore Marcus Morgan had a great night running and throwing the football in an opening-round win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Morgan didn’t have a bad night kicking the ball either.

He averaged 48 yards on three punts and broke his own school-record with a 68-yard punt.

Offensive Performer of the week: Tanner Lukavsky has picked the perfect time of year to be playing his best football.

Lukavsky accounted for 286 total yards in a win over Dyersville Beckman last week and followed up that performance by racking up 268 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in a 56-14 opening-round win over Osage.

Lukavsky rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries and caught three passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Best of the rest: West High senior receiver Justin Thomas caught six passes for 94 yards and had a 26-yard touchdown reception in a 38-14 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Solon junior receiver Seamus Poynton had three receptions for 85 yards and rushed for 18 yards in a 48-13 loss to Western Dubuque.

Clear Creek Amana senior quarterback Andrew Rohret rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown, passed for 70 yards and also caught a 20-yard pass in a 17-6 loss to Decorah.

Defensive performer of the week: Cole Mabry is one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the state.

The West High senior safety had one of his best games of the season on Friday.

Mabry had nine tackles including seven solo stops and 1.5 tackles for loss in a 38-14 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Best of the rest: West Branch senior defensive lineman Drake Bloem had three tackles for loss including two sacks in a 56-14 win over Osage.

Clear Creek Amana sophomore defensive end TJ Bollers had 8.5 tackles including two tackles for loss in a 17-6 loss to Decorah.

West Branch junior defensive lineman Dalyn Pedersen had 4.5 tackles including three tackles for loss and a sack in a 56-14 win at Osage.  

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