West Branch senior Cooper KabelaBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
Butch Pedersen was prepared to break in a new quarterback this season following the graduation of last year’s starter Cooper Koenig.
What Pedersen wasn’t ready for was starting three different quarterbacks before the calendar hit October.
That is exactly the situation the long-time West Branch coach found himself in on Friday.
Cooper Kabela became the third quarterback to start a game at West Branch this season after senior Brandon Rummelhart dislocated his shoulder playing volleyball as part of the school’s homecoming activities.
Rummelhart had started the last three games in replace of sophomore Beau Cornwell who was lost for the season in week two after breaking his collarbone.
“I have absolutely never seen anything like this,” Pedersen said of the injuries. “Never even close to this. This is the most unbelievable I’ve ever seen in my entire life. These aren’t some reserve PAT guys, these have been our main guys.”
Kabela wasn’t just making the first start of his high school career on Friday he was taking snaps for the first time in his life.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior responded well, completing 9-of-12 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns in a 50-22 win over Durant.
“We went with Cooper Kabela and he did a magnificent job,” Pedersen said. “He’d never taken a snap. He’d never played quarterback in his life, even in junior high or flag football he’d never played quarterback and we said ‘you are going to do it now’.”
The timing of Rummelhart’s injury left Pedersen and the Bears without a lot of options at quarterback.
Pedersen went with Kabela, who led the Bears with 23 receptions for 385 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver through five games.
“He’s the best available athlete we had and he’s a leader,” Pedersen said. “We decided to go that route because we didn’t have a lot of options.”
It turned out to be a wise decision as Kabela helped the Bears score on every first-half drive and a 43-0 halftime lead.
Kabela got help from senior Luke Lenoch who rushed for 158 yards and gave Kabela plenty of assistance.
“Honestly I have to give credit to Luke because pretty much on every play he told me which way to go,” Kabela said.
Kabela will be the starting quarterback the rest of the way for the Bears which despite the injuries West Branch (4-2) is in the thick of the postseason race.
West Branch is 3-1 in Class 1A District 3 play and trails district unbeatens Bellevue and Clayton Ridge in the standings.
The Bears host Clayton Ridge in the regular season finale on Oct. 21.
“After all this stuff the kids are resilient,” Pedersen said. “They just keep fighting. Lots of kids would have packed it up and been done.”
Mr. 1,000: For many running backs a 1,000-yard season is a once in a career accomplishment.
Luke Lenoch has made it a habit.
The West Branch senior cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season on Friday rushing for 158 yards in a 50-22 win over Durant.
Lenoch has rushed for 1,081 yards and 18 touchdowns this season to up his career totals to 5,265 yards and 75 touchdowns.
Offensive defense: Solon hasn’t just been shutting down opposing offenses during its four-game winning streak the Spartans have been scoring points on defense.
Solon scored three defensive touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Fort Madison on Friday and have now has five defensive scores in its past four games.
Jacob Coons, Spencer Wegmann and Storm Scott all returned fumbles for touchdowns in the win at Fort Madison.
Offensive player of the week: Nate Wieland didn’t match his passing performance from a week ago on Friday but the City High senior quarterback turned in another strong effort both running and passing.
Wieland completed 11-of-18 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 20 yards and a score in a 49-20 win at Davenport Central.
Runner-up: Regina junior Isaac Vollstedt notched his third straight 100-yard game since returning from an injury, rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown in a 41-17 win over No. 8 Wilton.
Defensive player of the week: Drake Mougin did it all in Clear Creek Amana’s win over No. 5 West Delaware. The senior outside linebacker had four tackles, forced a fumble and blocked a punt. Mougin also recovered two fumbles returning one 30 yards for a touchdown.
Runner-up: Regina senior defensive back Trae Rogers picked off two passes and returned them a combined 49 yards to set up Regal scores in a 41-17 win over previously unbeaten Wilton. The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Rogers added four solo tackles as Regina improved to 5-1.