Friday night didn’t produce the start to the season City High was planning for.
Good news on the injury to starting quarterback Nate Wieland on Saturday morning prevented the Little Hawks’ opening night from going from disappointing to devastating.
Wieland was injured on the opening possession of Friday’s 35-21 road loss to second-ranked Cedar Falls.
Initially, head coach Dan Sabers was concerned the junior signal-caller had suffered a potentially season-ending broken collar bone.
By Saturday morning the prognosis on Wieland was better.
“It was a sickening thought to think that a kid that has worked so hard might lose it all the first five plays but we got more encouraging news this morning,” Sabers said. “He’s going to be back and most likely it is not going to be this week or possibly even next week but he is going to get to play more football so that is great news.”
Sabers described Wieland’s injury as “a significant shoulder sprain.”
He didn’t expect the junior to be back for Friday’s home opener against third-ranked Bettendorf (1-0), but beyond that Sabers didn’t have a timetable for the Little Hawks’ leading rusher from last season to return.
“We are going to have to see,” Sabers said. “It could be a few weeks possibly, we will just have to see exactly how that works out.”
The diagnosis for Wieland was far from the only positive to come out of the weekend for the Little Hawks, despite the 0-1 start.
Junior Jared Taylor replaced Wieland in the first quarter Friday and threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
Taylor was 12-of-22 in his first action, tossing touchdown strikes of 89, 9 and 45 yards.
“I don’t think we could have expected anything more of him but it didn’t shock us because he is such a hard worker,” Sabers said. “He is willing to do whatever we ask him to do so I was really happy for him that when he was presented with an opportunity he made the most of it.”
Despite three fumbles, including one on the second half kickoff that led directly to a Cedar Falls touchdown, City High hung with a Tiger squad that many believe is among the state’s best.
“There were a lot of positives that we saw,” Sabers said. “We battled, when Nate went down early that was tough obviously but Jared Taylor came in and just did an outstanding job. I was very pleased with his overall performance and just pleased how the team kept battling. We really felt as though we had a chance to win the game until the end.”
WIN 1: Actually, Joe Donovan has more than 150 career wins to his credit, but Friday’s 18-10 win over Danville gave the first-year Highland coach his first win at his new school.
The win also snapped a five-game losing skid for Highland, which lost 21-7 at Danville in last season’s opener.
Offensive performer of the week: Big things are expected of Oliver Martin this season. The West High junior delivered a big-time performance in Thursday’s season opener. Martin caught 11 passes for a career-high 203 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-31 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Martin had scoring grabs of 25 and 35 yards in the loss.
Runner-up: Senior quarterback Alex Henderson played a big hand in Martin’s career night. Henderson completed 20-of-30 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 54 yards.
Defensive performer of the week: Regina senior defensive back Nick Phillips picked off a pair of passes and made three solo tackles in a 21-13 win over Class 3A No. 9 Solon. Both of Phillips’ interceptions led to Regina touchdowns and were part of seven turnovers forced by the Regal defense.
Runner-up: West Branch senior Drew Finnegan had 11 tackles, including seven solo stops and a tackle for loss, in just more than a half of play before leaving the Bears’ season-opening win over Lisbon with a season-ending leg injury.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.