City High celebrates against Linn-Mar. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports. By Clete Campbell
DAVENPORT – The dress rehearsals are over. The clock’s struck midnight on the final game walk-through. The countdown to the second season kickoff is on.
As pop hitmakers Calvin Harris and Rihanna would say, this is what the City High Little Hawks came for.
City High reunited with Uncle Momentum Friday night while acing its regular-season finale and scoring a much-needed momentum ‘W’ with a defense-driven, 55-20 running clock spearing of Davenport North at Brady Street Stadium.
A week after taking a hard 44-7 thumping from state championship favorite Bettendorf, City High found its winning formula again against the overmatched Wildcats.
“We tried our darndest to win a district championship,” City High coach Dan Sabers said, “but we’re happy to be headed into the playoffs with some success.”
The No. 9-ranked Little Hawks (7-2, 4-1) enter the Class 4A playoff field a district runner-up. They will learn their playoff assignment today as the Iowa High School Athletic Association unveils the postseason bracket.
“Let’s working to have a great Friday night wherever that may be,” Sabers told his team after the game.
North coach Brandon Krusey predicted before the game City High would be “chomping at the bit … to prove what team they really are after last week,” and Krusey was right on the money.
City High moved at two blistering speeds throughout its game-breaking first quarter: fast and furious.
Quarterback Nate Wieland needed just three plays to locate Naeem Smith on a short dash route that the burner took 71 yards to the North 9-yard line. The very next play, Wieland was QB optioning into the end zone on a 9-yard score, and the rout was on just 4:04 into the game.
Smith returned North’s punt off its failed opening drive 46 yards for a score. Wieland (5-for-8 for 140 yards in just a quarter of work) was back in big play motion late in the first, hitting Vance Dillon a perfect arrow shot over pass coverage down the right sideline that Dillion took 45 yards to the house.
Before the game was 14 minutes old, City High already owned a 19-0 advantage.
With Sabers working to get his entire roster as much action as possible, Jared Taylor took over for Wieland behind center in the second quarter and kept City High soaring. He found Miles Morrow over double coverage down the far sideline for a 64-yard scoring strike with 2:41 left before halftime.
The City High defense was in predator mode, delivering five timely turnovers – including four interceptions – that generated 28 points.
Ben Parker’s 25-yard pick-6 of Aikeem Hill with 10:23 left in the third quarter made it a 34-0 game.
Defensive back Ethan Griffiths got in the act next by short-circuting the Wildcats’ ensuing possession with an interception. Three minutes later, Chris Johnson (a team-high 106 yards on 8 carries) burst into the end zone on a 1-yard TD run for a 41-0 City High lead.
“Our defense will have to be a big part of our playoff success,” linebacker Naranda Poole said.
The Little Hawks feasted on a black and blue Wildcats squad that sported more bandages than a M*A*S*H unit and fighting without regular starting quarterback Rudy Juarez.
North, which had scored just two offensive touchdowns in its previous four games, labored to generate any kind of offensive rhythm until the game was already all but in the score book.
It took Zeke Hayslett’s 16-yard run with 10:38 left, Zach Wingate’s 47-yard QB keeper and QB Hill’s 4-yard score off a naked bootleg in the fourth for the Wildcats to generate any real Senior Night excitement for the home crowd.
But by then, City High was already moving full steam ahead to what they came for: a shot to prove itself as more than just a playoff team in the Class 4A postseason.
“We’ve got to play better than we’ve been playing and work off games like this,” Poole said. “We haven’t played to our full potential. We can be a lot better.”
But just how good can City High be? That’s an issue that will be decided in the second season: They season they came for.
“Good things are ahead of us,” Sabers told his team. “Keep believing in what we’re doing. Keep believing in who we are.
“We’re just scratching the surface.”
City High Dav. North
First Downs 10 9
Rushes-Yards 28-170 37-225
Passing Yards 231 79
Total Yards 401 304
Comp-Att-Int 11-121-1 3-12-4
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 4-1
Penalties-Yards 2-10 5-50
Punts 2-45 3-98
City High 19 8 14 14 – 55
Davenport North 0 0 0 20 – 20
ICH – Nate Wieland 9 run (Miles Morrow kick)
ICH – Naeem Smith 46 punt return (kick failed)
ICH – Vance Dillon 45 pass from Wieland (kick failed)
ICH – Miles Morrow 64 pass from Jared Taylor (Gabriel Nkumu 2 pass from Taylor)
ICH – Douglas Hoke 25 interception return (Morrow kick)
ICH – Chris Johnson 1 run (Morrow kick)
DN – Ezekiel Hayslett 16 run (Ethan Griffiths kick)
DN – Zach Wingate 47 run (Griffiths kick)
ICH – Johnson 62 run (Morrow kick)
DN – Aikeen Hill 4 run (kick blocked)
ICH – Johnson 25 run (Morrow kick)
Rushing – ICH: Chris Johnson 8-106, Davonte Foster 3-22, Bryce Frantz 5-17, Naranda Poole 4-12, Wieland 3-15, Kennardo Rodney 1-3, Taylor 2-(-7), Brock Hunger 1-3. Team 1-(minus 1). NORTH: Zach Wingate 7-92, Ezekiel Hayslett 5-34, Nate Pemberton 5-33, Kemp Harper 6-20, Dakota Wright 3-20, Akendre Abby 6-14, Dakota Wright 1-2, Hill 5-17, Robert Bladel 2-(-7).
Passing – ICH: Nate Wieland 5-8 140, Jared Taylor 3-6-1 75. NORTH: Aikeem Hill 2-10-3 15, Bladel 1-1 64, Wingate 0-1-1.
Receiving – ICH: Smith 1-71, Morrow 1-64, Dillon Vance 1-45, Marquel Poole 1-15, Hunger 1-11, Michael Schumacher 1-11, Cole Milder 2-10, Mwene Baloci 1-4. NORTH: Chris Murphy 2-73, CJ Bakoylis 1-6.