The West High Trojans are becoming the Mississippi Valley Conference’s answer to the Oregon Ducks.
Despite losing a number of key weapons from last year’s squad, West continues to play, and score, at a breakneck pace. A week after putting up 67 on Linn Mar, the Trojans continued to roll against Cedar Rapids Washington, rolling the Warriors 49-8 Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to answer questions about what we’ve lost last year,” West coach Brian Sauser said. “I’d much rather talk about what we have this year. Coming back with Nate Boland, Micah Kelsay back, who rushed for 14 touchdowns. (Devin) Raffensperger averaged 8 yards per carry as a backup.
“We really got a good indication about three weeks ago about how strong our offensive line was. That’s a group of five seniors who played a lot of JV last year. They kind of came together as a unit and it starts with those guys up front.”
Coming off a 14-10 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy, the Warriors (0-2) were no bore offensively. Washington quarterback Reid Snitker threw 20 first-half passes with mostly positive returns, but West’s big play capability dwarfed the Warriors production. Three plays of 50 yards or more before halftime gave West a big early advantage. Senior quarterback Nate Boland continues to be the main cog in the Trojans’ (2-0) high-powered attack, amassing 189 total yards through the first two quarters.
West took all of 1:26 off the clock to register the game’s first score. Following a few pedestrian runs, Boland tossed a simple pass to fullback Kelsay. Kelsay followed his blockers and had just enough juice to stay ahead of the defenders for a 58-yard score.
The Warriors came right back. Converting three straight third-down conversions, Washington found itself in West territory.
With pressure bearing down, Snitker fluttered a pass to Connor Vincent, who weaved his way upfield 37 yards for a Washington touchdown. The Warriors spread the field and Snitker lobbed an easy toss to Landen Akers for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead. The Warriors would not find the scoreboard again.
West did not take long to answer. On the next play from scrimmage, Raffensperger ripped off a 50-yard run to the Washington 10. Boland connected with Anthony Batie from 9 yards out to cap the drive.
West forced a three-and-out on the Warriors’ next possession. Lined up to punt, Tyler Burkie kneeled down to chorale a low snap. Burkie’s knee was ruled to have been in contact with the ground while he possessed the football, giving West the ball at the Washington 27. Kelsay made them pay with a 2-yard touchdown run for a 21-8 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
West had one more explosive play during the second quarter. Out of the pistol from his own 13, Boland faked a hand-off to Raffensperger. Boland cut right and torched the defense on his way to an 87-yard score.
Boland’s burst was sandwiched between two big defensive stands. Twice, Washington had a fourth-and-short inside the West 10. Both drives were turned away with incomplete passes.
“Those were huge momentum plays,” Sauser said. “Obviously if they score, it’s a much tighter ballgame. We’re not overly thrilled defensively, but our kids did a great job of tightening up when they had to.”
The Trojan defense spurred the first West score of the second half. Vincent was stripped as West pounced on the Warriors’ 41. A Raffensperger 15-yard scamper put West in position once again as Kelsay scored a touchdown, this time from a yard out.
The Warriors botched a center-quarterback exchange around midfield as the Trojans firmly took control.
Raffensperger continued his explosive night with a 33-yard run. Kelsay’s fourth score was negated by an illegal man downfield penalty. From the 11, Boland found Batie for their second touchdown connection.
West racked up 490 yards of offense on the night. Raffensperger and Boland both eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. The Trojans return home next week to square off with Kennedy.
W – Micah Kelsay 58 pass from Nate Boland (Connor Gordon kick).
CRW – Connor Vincent 37 pass from Reid Snitker (Landen Akers pass from Snitker).
W – Anthony Batie 9 pass from Boland (Gordon kick).
W – Kelsay 2 run (Gordon kick).
W – Boland 87 run (Gordon kick).
W – Kelsay 1 run (Gordon kick).
W – Batie 11 pass from Boland (Gordon kick).
W – Clay Moel 39 run (Gordon kick).
|Total Nets Yards||490||263|
RUSHING – West: West: Devin Raffensperger 11-135, Micah Kelsay 6-26, Nate Boland 6-107, Kevin Dowell 6-35, Anthony Batie 1-2, Clay Moel 4-53, Aaron Bleil 1-4 Mitch Yoerger 1-3, Michael Krupp 1-10. C.R. Washington: Mason Taylor 16-63, Connor Vincent 8-27, Reid Snitker 5-22, Caleb Smothers 2-8, Tyler Burkie 1-minus-13, Jacob Bjornsen 1-0, Sam Vincent 1-3.
PASSING – West: Boland 8-12-0-108, Aaron Bleil 1-1-0-7. C.R. Washington: Snitker 14-24-0-153.
RECEIVING – West: Kelsay 1-58, Batie 4-54, Raffensperger 1-minus-4, Oliver Martin 2-3, Connor Greene 1-4. C.R. Washington: Vincent 2-51, Landen Akers 5-74, Clayton Bjornsen 1-5, Isaiah Nimmers 3-16, Smothers 1-12, Taylor 2-minus-5.