What started as a night to celebrate the past quickly turned into a reason to celebrate the present thanks in large part to City High running back Xavier Washpun.
The 200-pound senior rushed for 221 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Little Hawks pounded Cedar Rapids Jefferson 35-10 Friday at Bates Field. The victory improved to City’s record to 3-1, but it also came in a game with historical significance with Friday’s contest the 1,000th in the history of the Little Hawk program.
“I’m just glad to be a part of this tradition,” said Washpun, who has rushed for 681 yards in four games this season. “I’m fortunate to have been a part of this 1,000th-game.”
It almost seemed like Washpun broke 1,000 tackles during the game with his aggressive running style. He had 10 runs that gained at least 10 yards, with many yards coming after contact.
“Xavier is one tough kid,” said City senior tight end/defensive end Jake Leohr. “He’s going to get yards after contact. He’s just one really, really tough kid.”
City coach Dan Sabers paid Washpun a huge compliment by saying he has a chance to rank among the best running backs in school history. That covers a lot of ground, considering City’s tradition at running back with former star players such as Tim Dwight and Rob Thein.
“He can bounce it out, he knows when to lower the shoulder and do power,” Sabers said of Washpun. “So I love the things that he does. His vision is excellent. And then he’s quicker than most people give him credit for.
“He’s doing a hell of a job for us. He’s going to rank up there with the others before it’s all said and done.”
Leading 14-3 at halftime, City drove 94 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter. Leohr capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Little Hawks forced Jefferson to punt and sophomore Jason Jones returned the punt to the Jefferson 32-yard line. Washpun then ripped off runs of 10 and nine yards, and senior fullback Ivan Diaz caught an 8-yard pass, moving the ball to the Jefferson 10. Leohr then gained six yards on a counter play and Diaz then scored from 2 yards out, expanding City’s lead to 28-3 with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
City is thought to have joined Class 3A power Harlan as the only high school teams in Iowa to play 1,000 varsity football games.
Sabers used the history to motivate his players.
“We talked about that quite a bit,” Sabers said. “You have to embrace a tradition like this.”
City came out sluggish in the first quarter, but eventually found its rhythm on offense and defense in the third quarter. The Little Hawks finished with 348 rushing yards.
“I was a little disappointed again,” Sabers said. “We have to find a way to play 48 minutes.”
Football became a sanctioned sport at City in 1907. The Little Hawks have been dominant for stretches in football, none more so than the four-year period from 1993-96 when they won three Class 4A state titles, the first with Dwight leading the way.
The current team is just trying to get City back to its winning ways after last year’s team finished with a 4-6 record.
Jefferson, on the other hand, is just searching for a victory after losing its 34th of past 35 games.
Washpun broke loose on his third carry of the game and sprinted 42 yards for a touchdown. Senior Drew Cornwell made the extra-point kick to give City a 7-0 advantage with 6:17 seconds left in the first quarter. Washpun accounted for all of City’s 63 yards on the opening scoring drive, also having runs of 16 and five yards.
“It’s just all instinct,” Washpun said of his running style. “I think I can do it all.”
Jefferson (0-4) then drove to City 21-yard line, but the drive fizzled when Nick Rocha missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.
The Little Hawks drove 79 yards on 10 plays and capped the drive with Washpun plowing into the end zone from 1 yard out, making the score 14-0 with 1:28 left before halftime.
Jefferson answered with a drive to close the first half. Jefferson quarterback Layne Sullivan completed three passes on the drive, including a 25-yarder to Brandon Wiederin that moved the ball to the City 39. The drive once again stalled, but Rocha answered this time with a 45-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
Jefferson played without leading rusher Michael Montcivais, who was out with an injury.
C – Xavier Washpun 42 run (Drew Cornwell kick).
C – Washpun 1 run (Cornwell kick).
CRJ – Nick Rocha 45 FG.
C – Jake Leohr 1 run (Cornwell kick).
C – Ivan Diaz 2 run (Cornwell kick).
CRJ – Brandon Wiederin 21 pass from Layne Sullivan (Rocha kick).
C – Cory Lindsey 7 pass from Mitch Wieland (Cornwell kick).
RUSHING – Jefferson: Layne Sullivan 10-35, Ben Koering 4-40, Nick O’Connell 6-9, Mason Short 4-7, Cameron Frazier 3-25. City: Xavier Washpun 22-221, Bryson Runge 7-42, Mitch Wieland 5-42, Jake Leohr 4-38, Ivan Diaz 1-2, Div Tosingilo 4-11, Chuck Riley 2-5
PASSING – Jefferson: Sullivan 11-17-184-0, Bryce Cardis 1-4-26-2. City: Wieland 4-8-45-0.
RECEIVING – Jefferson: Frazier 3-67, Short 3-34, Brandon Wiederin 2-46, Koering 2-22, Bryce Lund 1-25, Spencer Hunt 1-12. City: Jason Jones 2-30, Ivan Diaz 1-8, Cory Lindsey 1-7.