IOWA CITY – More than 20 minutes passed before there was any hint of celebration. The stands were empty. The scoreboard displayed advertisements instead of the score. The field itself in pristine condition as if a game never took place.
Then finally some sign of a victory – a cheer from the locker room after a long talk.
“If this was the middle of the season, we’d be like ‘OK we have time to build and improve,’” Iowa City West head coach Brian Sauser said. “The reality is in the playoffs you don’t have time to build. We play again in five days and we really need to recognize that we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Friday, Waterloo West gave the Trojans its best shot. It equated to an Iowa City West 41-13 win. The lob-sided score only tells half the story. The other half was what Sauser was discussing postgame to his players.
The Wahawks trailed 14-0 at halftime, but in everything but the scoreboard, was even with the heavily favored Trojans. Waterloo West outrushed Iowa City West in the first half 189-159.
“You gotta give a lot of credit to Waterloo West. A 3-6 team to come down here and really take it to us, I mean they took it to us for the better part of three quarters,” Sauser said. “Our guys, I’m happy we’re still playing but we’ve certainly got to improve a lot in a short period of time.”
The Trojans finally began playing to their potential after the Wahawks scored early in the third to cut the deficit to 14-6. From that point on, ICW held a 24-6 advantage on the scoreboard and dominated even more in the boxscore.
Iowa City West held the Wahawks to 29 total yards between their two second-half scores. During the same time frame, Waterloo West didn’t record a first down. It wasn’t until the game had a running clock did the Wahawks have any kind of offensive momentum.
“I think it was simply the matter of our guys all of a sudden, you know dialed it in and turned it up,” Sauser said. “They just kind of decided wow, I’m really going to have to fight and battle for this and then it was night and day.”
Meanwhile, the prolific Trojan offense caught fire. Nate Boland tallied 141 of his 226 passing yards in the second half. He also passed for three touchdowns, two of which landed in senior wide receiver Jeremy Morgan’s hands.
Morgan also picked off a pass in the endzone with five seconds remaining in the second quarter to preserve a 14-0 lead going into the locker room. The pass looked to be headed for six Wahawk points, until Morgan’s wingspan got the best of the attempt and reeled in the interception.
Iowa City’s other standout receiver, Dondre Alexander was held in check for most of the game, until a 40 yard reception in the fourth. He finished with four catches for 79 yards.
“We have great athletes. That kind of gave us a little spark, when we got it to 21,” Sauser said. “We don’t need to make life that hard on us. You know we don’t need to do it that way. Our kids are extremely physical, and we’re a better football team than that.”
The Iowa City West passing attack was almost non-existent in the first half. Running back Devin Raffensperger carried the load for the Trojans. He gained 61 yards on the opening drive helping his team go up 7-0. Raffensperger had 125 yards at the half and finished with 148. But his first 61 were as good as Iowa City West looked until the second half.
Monday, the Trojans will try to carry the momentum established in that second half when it hosts Cedar Rapids Prairie
“It felt good. Scoring a lot in the second half, after we had a bad first half, is huge,” Raffensperger said. “It will carry over to Monday night’s game hopefully.”
ICW – Micah Kelsay 3 run (kick good)
ICW – Devn Raffensperger 13 run (kick good)
WW – Dylan Draeger 1 run (kick failed)
ICW – Devin Raffensperger 17 pass from Nate Boland (Kick failed)
ICW – Jeremy Morgan 12 pass from Nate Boland (kick good)
ICW – Jeremy Morgan 15 pass from Nate Boland (kick good)
ICW – Clay Moel 3 pass from Nate Boland (kick good)
WW – Skyler Chapelle 22 pass from Dylan Draeger(kick good)