By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – The hits just keep on coming for the West Branch football team. With four starters already on the sideline the Bears suffered perhaps the weirdest injury in their illustrious history Friday.
Quarterback Brandon Rummelhart dislocated his shoulder playing in the Powder Puff volleyball game Friday afternoon as part of the school’s homecoming festivities.
Rummelhart was already the second-string quarterback, having replaced the season’s starter, Beau Cornwell, whose season ended with a broken collar bone.
The Bears scrambled to figure out what to do next and decided that senior tight end Cooper Kabela was the next man in.
West Branch senior Cooper Kabela
All Kabela did was direct the Bears to a dominant 50-22 victory over Durant in a 1A District 3 match-up.
The victory keeps the Bears in the hunt for a playoff spot at 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the district. Durant is 1-5, 0-4.
“I was right there; I was actually playing volleyball too,” Kabela said. “It was about 2:30. (Rummelhart) was only supposed to set, but he spiked the ball and (the shoulder) came out. You could tell right away.”
“When it happened we were like, ‘Oh god’ because he’s had shoulder problems as long as I can remember,” running back Luke Lenoch said. “He had to bite a towel he was in so much pain. Poor guy.”
Offensive coordinator Jarod Tylee came to school a little after 4 to talk about what to do.
“I asked him what formation we were going to go in so I could line up for my tight-end position, and he said, ‘It’s your show,’” Kabela said. “I was kind of surprised. I’d never taken a snap in my life.”
Kabela did just fine. He completed 9-of-12 passes for 88 yards in building a 43-0 first-half lead.
The Bears took advantage of great field position supplied by a rejuvenated defense. Their first three possessions began at the Durant 41, 22 and 22, and all resulted in touchdowns.
“I thought Kabela did a good job running an offense he didn’t know anything about,” Bears coach Butch Pedersen said. “He never had any reps, so hopefully he’ll be better next week.”
Pedersen said Kabela’s athletic ability and leadership made him the choice.
“He’s got the size; he can run,” Pedersen said.
West Branch scored on every possession in the first half, including a sharp two-minute drill at the end of the half directed by Kabela.
With 1:55 left the Bears took over on Durant’s 31. Kabela completed 6-of-9 passes in the drive (one was a spike to stop the clock), including the 6-yarder to Tanner Lukavsky for the touchdown.
The drive took only 74 seconds.
“Honestly I have to give credit to Luke because pretty much on every play he told me which way to go,” Kabela confessed.
“He needed some help, but I think he did a pretty good job tonight,” Lenoch said. “I don’t think anyone could have done a better job than he did. He throws a pretty good ball.”
Lenoch was a great help, as usual. He scored four touchdowns on runs of 19, 13, 28 and 69 yards. The last one was a thing of beauty.
“I noticed that the linebacker was kind of inside so I cut and turned my head to the left and cut back,” he said. “It was great blocking by the line and the wide receivers.”
Defensively the Bears were outstanding when they had the first unit on the field. They hardly resembled the crew that gave up a mountain of yards to Maquoketa Valley two weeks earlier. The tackling was crisp and the hits were definitive.
“We’ve been working hard in practice,” Jacob Graves said. “We’ve been doing hitting, tackling drills all day. We were more aggressive.”
“We played well tonight,” Pedersen said. “We got after people. We’ve been stepping up all season long. We had five starters on the sideline and still came back and played really, really well.”
The first-team defense held Durant to minus-24 yards rushing in the first half and only four first downs. Graves intercepted two passes.
The Bears scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half to boost the lead to 50-0. Substitutions played the rest of the way.
Durant 0 0 0 22 – 22
West Branch 14 29 7 0 – 50
WB – Luke Lenoch 19 run (Javier Zamudio kick)
WB – Lenoch 13 run (Zamudio kick)
WB – Jacob Graves 10 pass from Cooper Kabela (Zamudio kick)
WB – Lenoch 28 run (Zamudio kick)
WB – Lenoch 69 run (Lenoch run)
WB – Tanner Lukavsky 6 pass from Kabela (Zamudio kick)
WB – Brett Schiele 2 run (Zamudio kick)
DUR – Mason Compton 29 pass from Leo Callison (pass failed)
DUR – Luke Whitlock 19 pass from Callison (Cale Frett run)
DUR – Compton 21 pass from Callison (Frett run)
Durant West Branch
First downs 12 16
Rushing-yards 17-(-22) 37-230
Comp-att-int 14-25-2 10-14-0
Passing-yards 240 97
Punts-avg. 5-28.6 1-42
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-23.5 3-30
Rushing – DUR: Bryce Lafrenz 3-5, Cole Frett 5-1, Tristan Hughes 2-0, Jacob Conley 3-(-4), Leo Callison 4-(-24); WB: Luke Lenoch 19-160, Brett Schiele 6-34, Cale Donovan 4-21, Cooper Kabela 4-21, team 2-(-2), Nick Schreiber 2-(-4).
Passing – DUR: Leo Callison 14-25-2-240; WB: Cooper Kabela 9-12-0-88, Brett Schiele 1-1-0-9, Trey Eagle 0-1-0-0.
Receiving – DUR: Luke Whitlock 5-140, Mason Compton 5-75, Bryce Lafrenz 3-22, Curtis Lilienthal 1-20, Tristan Hughes 1-5, Jacob Conley 1-4; WB: Luke Lenoch 2-25, Billy Friis 1-18, Ben Thompson 2-14, Jacob Graves 2-13, Brett Schiele 1-12, Cale Donovan 1-9, Tanner Lukavsky 1-6.