Bryce Frantz celebrates against Linn-Mar.Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Every year the Battle for the Boot is special for every coach and player that takes part in the annual cross-town showdown.
The game takes on a little more meaning for the seniors on each side.
For seniors it’s the last chance at a win in one of the state’s biggest rivalries. A shot a bragging rights for the rest of your life, a final opportunity to hoist the Boot.
When your final shot at the Boot is your only time playing in the rivalry the week that seems long leading up to the big game can feel like an eternity.
Welcome to the week for City High senior Bryce Frantz.
“This game means a lot of course to everybody on the team, at the school and in the community,” Frantz said. “It’s a big game and it’s a big week, a long week, a challenging week, and every day we have to come extra focused.”
Frantz was supposed to play an important role in last year’s meeting with West High.
City High senior Bryce Frantz
He rushed for 80 yards in his first career start in last season’s opener at Cedar Falls but a knee injury sustained at practice the following week sidelined Frantz for three weeks.
The injury made Frantz a spectator for City High’s rainy 14-12 win over West High last year.
“Just watching it, it was exciting,” Frantz said. “We had to wait out a bunch of rain delays but the energy was still there and it was a really exciting game to watch.”
Frantz has had to wait four years for his chance play in a Battle for the Boot.
He will finally get that chance on Friday when No. 9 City High (2-1) travels to fifth-ranked West High (3-0).
“I’ve been extra fired up, I’ve been ready for this game since last year,” Frantz said. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about all season is just trying to get this game and bring a little something extra to each day of practice that week.”
Frantz missed the Battle for the Boot last season but he’s been a key cog in the City High offense since.
In his return from injury Frantz rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown against Ottumwa and hasn’t slowed down since.
In 11 games since returning from the injury he has rushed for 1,007 yards and 13 touchdowns including 324 yards and five scores this season.
Frantz has rushed for more than 100 yards five times in the last 11 games and the Little Hawks are 4-1 when he cracks the century mark.
“There is no question that he is a very confident young man out there,” City High coach Dan Sabers said. “When he runs the ball he runs with confidence. He can get no gain and on the next play he feels like he’s going to get something.
The emergence of the 5-foot-10, 195-pound Frantz has given the City High running game a boost.
City High averaged 98 rushing yards per game during a 2-2 start last season.
Since Frantz returned from his injury the Little Hawks have average 145 yards per game on the ground and are posting better than 220 yards per game rushing this season.
“Running is just setting the tone,” Frantz said. “If we can run we can pass. If we can’t run sometimes we can still pass but if we can run it just opens up other things for the offense.”
Frantz surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for his career last week with 121 yards in against Ames.
Despite missing those three games early in his career Frantz is approaching the prestigious top 10 on the career rushing list at City High.
“It’s truly an honor for me just to know some of the guys that have played running back here,” Frantz said. “Every running back to come out of here has just been phenomenal it seems like and it’s a real blessing to have a chance to play two years.”
Frantz figures to play a central role on Friday.
The team that has won the rushing battle has won each of the last meetings between City High and West High.
Frantz could be a key part of continuing that streak as he enters the game averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season.
“He is a competitor once the game starts, he is just somebody that finds a way,” Sabers said. “He’s a tough kid and his vision is excellent. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed or anything like that but he knifes in there and gets you that four or five yards.”