By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Fresh off a six-win season and with eight starters back on each side of the ball many people viewed Muscatine as a possible sleeper in Class 4A this season.
It took all of one game for the Muskies to blow their cover as a potential underdog.
A 29-25 come from behind win over defending 4A runner-up Cedar Rapids Kennedy last Thursday bumped Muscatine into the 4A rankings and got the full attention of coaches around the state.
West High coach Garrett Hartwig, who takes his ninth-ranked Trojans to Community Field on Friday for a top-10 showdown with No. 10 Muscatine (1-0) is among the coaches that took notice.
“They are a very good team,” Hartwig said. “They have the potential to run us out of the stadium if we aren’t careful.”
Hartwig knows Muscatine well.
The third-year West High head coach spent a season teaching in the district and coaching junior high and helping on the varsity staff.
Hartwig didn’t need a season on the Muscatine coaching staff to know who the Muskies’ game plan will revolve around on Friday night.
Senior tailback Alphonso Soko (5-10, 185) showed why he is considered among the top playmakers in the state last week, accounting for 236 yards of offense and returning a punt 83 yards for a touchdown.
“I think he is the best player in the state aside from my own guys,” Hartwig said. “That’s my personal opinion there might be coaches in the state that take him over everybody. He’s fantastic.”
Soko rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in the win over Kennedy and also caught two passes for 45 yards and a score.
Last season the University of South Dakota recruit ran for 1,161 yards and a school-record 18 touchdowns.
“We just want to contain him,” West High senior safety Devontae Lane said of Soko. “We can’t go into that game just focusing on one player because it’s not a one-man show, it’s 11 men on the field at once. He’s a really good athlete so we just have to play team defense. It’s going to be intense and a challenge for our defense.”
Friday will be a challenge in every way for West High (1-0) as Muskies have proven to be more than just the Soko show.
Senior quarterback Luke Wichers passed for 1,783 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago with Drew Greenhaw catching 30 passes for 514 yards.
“Soko is going to get his touches, he is going to get his yards you can do some things to try to limit that from happening but what is scary is that his teammates know how to operate with him being the main man,” Hartwig said. “They complement him incredibly well. Their quarterback is good, they have another all-state receiver, their offensive line is gritty.”
West High flashed its own offensive muscle in week one rolling up 541 yards of total offense in a 42-17 win over Southeast Polk.
Junior Evan Flitz threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start last week.
Senior receiver Oliver Martin caught eight passes for 156 yards a week ago and needs 53 yards on Friday to surpass Dondre Alexander for the most career receiving yards in West High history.
“I have a lot of confidence in Evan, I like him a lot as a quarterback,” Martin said. “I’ve always been confident in him. I’ve worked with him since my sophomore summer at quarterback, he did some 7-on-7 and he always threw a good ball and he’s been doing well in practice so I had all the confidence in him.”