City High celebrates against Linn-Mar on Aug. 26. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports.By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Dan Sabers admitted it took an hour or so at practice on Monday for his City High team to put last week’s win over cross-town rival West High behind them.
Sabers and his assistant coaches provided a slight nudge in the moving on process.
“We had to get their attention a little bit on Monday,” Sabers said. “Once we did they responded better and they’ve been better since.”
That’s one way to get a team’s attention.
Another way to get sixth-ranked City High (3-1) focused solely on Clinton (3-1) heading into Friday’s Class 4A, District 7 opener is to take a look at the stats the River Kings are piling up.
Clinton brings one of the state’s most productive offenses into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. meeting with City High at Coan Field.
The River Kings lead Class 4A in scoring (43), passing yards (314) and total yards (471) per game and have scored more than 37 points in all four games this season.
“You look at their offense and it gets your attention for sure,” City High senior lineman Jordain Buckland said. “We have to bring that energy into district play, we need to move on from Friday and bring that energy.”
At the controls of the most potent offense in Class 4A this season is senior quarterback Johnny Sullivan.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Sullivan has thrown for a state-best 1,257 yards and leads 4A with 15 touchdown passes.
Sullivan has attempted 136 passes, third most in the state, and is completing 68 percent of those throws.
“He is a very accurate thrower and they run about every route there is,” Sabers said. “If you go through the passing tree they hit them all I don’t think there is any that they miss. They do it well and they are an impressive offensive team.”
The favorite target for Sullivan is also the River King’s leading rusher.
Senior running back Gage Harris was a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago and has 283 yards rushing and six touchdowns this season.
Harris is also one of the state’s most dangerous receivers leading 4A in receptions (31), yards (509) and touchdowns (seven).
Fellow senior Ty Wenzel has caught 30 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns and gives Sullivan another receiving threat.
“They do a lot of with throwing to the guy out of the backfield,” Sabers said. “They do some interesting things and things that you have to coach and prepare for to defend. They try to create some tough matchup situations.”
City High has been stellar against the pass in four games this season.
The Little Hawks are allowing just 99 yards a game through the air and teams are completing just 46 percent of their passes against City High.
Only Ames, which passed for 185 yards in a week three win has thrown for more than 100 yards against City High this season.
“The one good thing is that we have gone against some teams that like to throw the ball and we’ve seen the formations and all that so we feel we are fairly prepared that way,” Sabers said.
City High is coming off a performance in which it held an explosive West High passing attack to 79 yards.
For City High the key on Friday is not leaving all the work up to a talented secondary that already has seven interceptions.
“That’s what we’ve been working on a lot is the pass rush,” Buckland said. “We have to get a pass rush, get the quarterback out of his comfort zone and get him out of the pocket.”