Forget just getting in, City High is moving on.
In its return to the postseason after a rare a one-year absence, City High built an early lead and held on for a 26-16 win over Linn-Mar (4-6) on Wednesday in a Class 4A opening-round tilt at a cold and blustery Bates Field.
City High had a string of 11 consecutive playoff appearances snapped with a 2-7 season a year ago.
On Friday, the Little Hawks made their return to the playoffs a successful one.
Jared Taylor threw for 202 yards and a touchdown and Bryce Frantz ran for two scores as City High advanced to Monday’s second round.
“We are getting City High back to where we need to be,” senior Tom Pugh said. “Most teams, making the playoffs is a huge deal, for us it’s where we should be. We just need to keep on going from here.”
Frantz scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and Taylor connected with Jason Jones for a 62-yard touchdown pass as City High improved to 7-3.
The Little Hawks have won seven of their last eight games after starting the season with back-to-back losses.
“To come off 0-2 and have the injuries we did early and for the kids to keep battling and to get themselves in this position feels awfully good,” City High coach Dan Sabers said. “I’m awfully proud of them.”
The City High defense set the tone early.
The Little Hawks forced Linn-Mar to go three-and-out on its first three possessions and took advantage of a pair of short fields to take a 13-0 advantage less than 10 minutes into the game.
Frantz capped a 5-play, 58-yard touchdown drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge with 6:01 left in the first quarter to give City High a 6-0 lead.
Taylor completed four straight passes to open the drive, including a 22-yard strike to Jones to the Linn-Mar 1-yard line that set up Frantz’s score.
“The defense, they were doing excellent the first half,” Frantz said. “The offense was playing well, the short passes were working and in short yardage we were the better team.”
Another Linn-Mar three-and-out led to a 5-play, 34-yard City High touchdown drive that ended with an Erick Fletcher 6-yard burst up the middle to make it 13-0 with 2:42 left in the first half.
Linn-Mar answered with a 15-play drive that ended with a Alexy Boehm 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 13-3.
The Lions then closed to 13-10 at halftime on a 2-yard Reese Phillips quarterback sneak with 48 seconds left in the first half.
City High got the momentum back early in the second half.
The Little Hawks marched 62 yards in 11 plays and took a 20-13 lead on Frantz’s second 1-yard scoring run of the game.
“I just told them we have to come back out with the same intensity, who do we think we are that if we are up 13-0 we are going to put somebody away, we just aren’t that kind of a team,” Sabers said. “We lost a little focus there, but I was proud of them, they got it back the second half with a beautiful drive that took up six minutes into the wind, that was a key I think right there, we were back into it the way we needed to be.”
City High got some insurance when Jones leapt over two Linn-Mar defenders to haul in a pass at the Lion 40-yard line, kept his balance and outraced two defenders to the end zone to put City High up 26-10 with 11:07 left.
Jones finished with eight grabs for 132 yards to set a new City High single-season record for receptions.
Taylor finished 12-of-19 through the air for 202 yards without an interception.
“On a night like tonight, where it is cold and windy and passing the ball isn’t a big option for us, you definitely take the wins the way you can get them,” Taylor said.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
ICH—Bryce Frantz 1 run (kick blocked)
ICH—Erick Fletcher 6 run (Sarrive Rukakiza kick)
LM—Alexy Boehm 25 field goal
LM—Reese Phillips 2 run (Boehm kick)
ICH—Frantz 1 run (Rukakiza kick)
ICH—Jason Jones 62 pass from Jared Taylor (kick blocked)
LM—Reese Phillips 6 run (pass failed)
RUSHING—LM: Neme Siaway 14-58, Reese Phillips 8-21, Brennan McGaffe 2-9, Daniel Gorsich 2-7, Josh Gassman 2-20. ICH: Bryce Frantz 20-28, Jason Jones 2-19, Jared Taylor 5-17, Erick Fletcher 4-18, Nick Moioffer 1-2, Team 1-(-2).
PASSING—LM: Reese Phillips 14-31-0 136. Jared Taylor 12-19-0 202.
RECEIVING—LM: Mark Trautman 6-71, Daniel Gorsich 3-16, Kirby Kerr 1-14, Josh Gassman 1-10, Brennan McGaffe 2-17, Jacob McNeil 1-8. ICH: Jason Jones 8-132, Bryce Frantz 1-25, Tom Pugh 1-17, Griffin Fellows 2-28.