City High senior quarterback Nate Wieland avoids a Linn-Mar defender on Friday in City High’s 26-6 win at Bates Field. Tork Mason/For Your Prep SportsBy Richard C. Lewis
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Nate Wieland’s return as City High’s quarterback was highly anticipated.
He did not disappoint.
The senior signal-caller, who missed most of last season to injury, set the tone with a 72-yard touchdown run on the opening possession, and the Little Hawks defense yielded only two field goals, as City beat Linn-Mar, 26-6, in the season opener on Friday night.
Wieland, injured in the first and fifth games last season, celebrated his return by gaining 124 yards on 14 carries and piloting the Little Hawks’ offense to two second-half scores that put the game out of reach.
“It was awesome, Wieland said to get back out on the field. “I’ve been waiting for this since the Ottumwa game last year, and it was just awesome to get back out here with the guys.”
City led just 6-3 at the half, but the Little Hawks took control with two touchdown runs by Bryce Frantz, who finished with 106 yards on 20 carries.
The defense, meanwhile, held Linn-Mar out of the end zone despite five Lions’ trips inside the 20-yard line.
“I liked our toughness,” said City coach Dan Sabers. “That’s my theme. Even going through the game, when it’s 13-6, and still undecided, I just was feeling pretty good about things. Yeah, we made some mistakes and all that, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort. I liked our toughness defensively. They weren’t able to do much with us after the beginning. I really feel pretty good about that.”
Linn-Mar kept to the ground for most of the first half, alternating rushing duties between Brennan McGaffe and Neme Siaway. The two combined for 85 yards in the opening two quarters, but the only points the Lions got was a 33-yard field goal by Austin Cochrane to take a 3-0 lead with 6:13 left in the first quarter.
City High players celebrate a big play during the Little Hawks’ 26-6 win over Linn-Mar on Friday night at Bates Field. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports. City High wasted no time erasing that advantage. On the third play from scrimmage, Wieland kept the ball himself on a sweep. He found a sliver of daylight along the right side and tucked and tiptoed along the sideline for a 72-yard score to put the Little Hawks up, 6-3, with 5:03 remaining in the first.
“I read the (defensive end) coming across the line,” said Wieland, a Northern Illinois recruit. “We talked all week that if the end did that, we’re going to pull it, and I just had a ton of green in front of me, and the feeling that once you see that green, I had a ton of adrenaline going through me, and it was off to the races.”
“Well, you always like to get a big play like that,” City coach Sabers said. “It gets everybody all juiced up. You know, he’s that kind of an athlete. He’s got that speed to do that, 215 pounds with that kind of speed, that’s a real threat.”
Linn-Mar had two opportunities to retake the lead before halftime.
A 25-yard punt by Wieland near the end of the first quarter gave the Lions the ball at the City 45-yard-line. But City’s Vance Dillon picked off a Phillips’ pass in the right corner of the end zone to snuff out the threat.
In the second, Linn-Mar drove to the City 2-yard line, where the Lions faced a fourth and goal. Siaway plunged up the middle, but City’s defense denied him paydirt.
A 46-yard kickoff return by Naeem Smith to start the second half gave City the ball at the Linn-Mar 44. Six plays later, Frantz took it up the middle for a nine-yard TD, and City led 13-3.
Linn-Mar cut the deficit to 13-6 on a 26-yard field goal by Austin Cochrane. The points came after the Lions were whistled for an illegal procedure call on fourth and one at the City 7-yard line.
Linn-Mar had another chance in the third to tack on points, but quarterback Reese Phillips threw incomplete from the City 19-yard line. Phillips finished 6 of 21 for 76 yards and two interceptions.
A one-yard plunge by Frantz on fourth and goal with about 3 and a half minutes to go extended the Little Hawks lead to 19-6.
Dillon picked off a Phillips pass and returned it 66 yards for a TD to seal the deal.
The Little Hawks went 8-4 last year, advancing to the state playoffs before falling to Bettendorf, 31-7, in the quarterfinals. Jared Taylor, pressed into action with Wieland’s injury, passed for 2,054 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Wieland says the two talk regularly and have no issues.
“He helps me, I help him out. You know, it’s great. This doesn’t hurt our friendship any. You know, when he gets out on the field, we have a good time together, and hopefully we put in more formations when both of us are out there.”
It’s the 110th season for the Little Hawks. In that span, the team has compiled a 656-281 record, for a .700 winning percentage.
Add another win to that total.
City High Linn-Mar
First downs 13 13
Rushes-Yards 43-252 41-154
Passing 27 76
Comp-Att-Int 3-8-0 6-21-3
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-60 2-10
Linn-Mar 3 0 3 0 – 6
City High 6 0 7 13 – 26
LM – Aust
in Cochrane 33 FG
ICH – Nate Wieland 72 run (Kick blocked)
ICH – Bryce Frantz 9 run (Miles Morrow kick)
LM – Cochrane 29 FG
ICH – Frantz 1 run (Kick blocked)
ICH – Vance Dillon 66 Interception return (Morrow kick)