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By Alex Moen, City High senior
IOWA CITY – In its fifth game of the 2012 season, City High will play Dubuque Hempstead and the Little Hawks are hoping for another “No Doubt” victory to expand their record to 4-1.
“Our goal is to be conference champions first,” junior Mitch Wieland said. “Then move on to the playoffs and the state championship. But before we do that, we have to keep the boot at City.”
The City High football team opened the season with an away game in the UNI-Dome, losing 28-14 against Cedar Falls.
“We came out and played hard,” senior Sam Dennis said, “but we didn’t take care of the ball.”
The Little Hawks turned the ball over six times that Friday night.
“We have made it a focal point in practice and I think the squad is ready to take on anyone in the state,” Dennis said.
Since that game, the Little Hawks have turned it around. At their first home game, they maintained control of the football for the majority of the game, crushing Waterloo West, 49-19. Using two experienced quarterbacks, senior Tyler Stika passed for 67 yards and Wieland passed for 77 yards. Both also passed for touchdowns.
The team also had some “baby powder” encouragement, instigated by senior Emily Ward. The powder was distributed through the USA themed student section and tossed up during the opening kickoff.
“We learned a lot from our mistakes in the first half of the game, and came out ready to play in the second half,” senior Matt Lee, an offensive lineman, said. “We didn’t let the extreme heat and humidity get to us and played harder than the other team.”
The offensive line led the way for junior Xavier Washpun, who rushed for 89 yards and sophomore Bryson Runge, who rushed for 80 yards.
“We did make a lot of mistakes overall, but we’ve practiced hard this week and have made a lot of improvement in our game,” Lee said.
Tight end and defensive end Malin Craig agrees.
“The team took advantage of our opponent’s turnovers,” Craig said.
Even with senior middle linebacker Amos Lavela injured, the aggressive team was able to force turnovers and make things happen.
“We also have had much better execution on special teams plays and we were able to hold on to the ball this game,” Craig said.
The following week, the team played the other side of Waterloo.
“Waterloo East has a Division I quarterback that is being looked at by several schools including Iowa and Iowa State. Desmond Van Arsdale has the combination of speed, passing, and athletic ability that can make a good challenge for our defense,” Dan Sabers, head coach, said.
In the Red Zone – or student section – City High glowed neon, while on the field it turned two first quarter fumble recoveries into touchdowns and built a big lead. In the end they held off East by a final score of 38-26.
Junior Jake Leohr was a key contributor for the Little Hawks’ first touchdown of the night when his punt landed on the Waterloo East 1-yard line. On third down from the 4-yard line, senior Tanner Odle had Van Arsdale sacked when he threw the ball up for grabs and City senior Tyler Hill was able to intercept it at the 8-yard line.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Hill said. “I was really pumped up after that play.”
In his return, Lavela finished the quick drive with a short 1-yard run for the touchdown, putting City up by seven.
However, The Little Hawks’ score did not come without a cost. Lineman and co-captain Lee was injured on the third play in the first quarter.
When Lee stood up, there was an uproar of chanting “Matt Lee” from the student section in support of their fellow classmate. Lee did not return for the rest of the game.
The victory against Waterloo East was a team effort shown by multiple Little Hawks who stepped up to make big plays that night. Making the highlight reel for the night was a one-handed catch by senior tight end Tony Perry.
Perry also had a 51-yard return to put the offense into great field position later in the second quarter. The Little Hawks had a great passing play from Leohr to Washpun for 55-yards down the sideline. The play would not have been a touchdown without the influential block by Craig. Craig hit the safety who was guarding Washpun out of bounds, opening up the rest of the field up for him to complete the run. The Little Hawks went on to win the game, 38-26.
“It was a good win,” Wieland said. “They are a very good team this year and we did a lot of good things early and took them out of their own game.”
The offensive line is backed with Odle , Lee , senior Parker Reineke, junior Luke Posivio and senior Daren Jones. This offensive line is leading the way for Lavela, who has rushed for 281 yards, and sophomore Bryson Runge, who has rushed for 222 yards, and Washpun, who has rushed for 126 yards.
Last week, City took on the Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks. Lavela lead the team to a 38-0 shutout victory. He carried the ball 15 times for 144 yards in the first half, and scored three touchdowns before the break.
The team will be facing the two Dubuque teams, Hempstead and Senior in the next weeks. Two weeks from tonight, the Little Hawks play across the river for an ancient, infamous battle – The Battle Of The Boot. West High is ranked second in the state behind Ankeny. The Little Hawks are currently ranked seventh in the state.