Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Opportunistic.
The right place at the right time.
The West Branch football team had three scoop-and-score touchdowns in a 61-point first half and overwhelmed Lisbon 61-20 in the season opener Friday at The Little Rose Bowl.
Jaxson Kaalberg, a senior defensive tackle for the Bears, was the first man in the end zone just four plays into the game.
The Lisbon punter appeared to fumble the snap. Several Bears defenders piled on, but it was Kaalberg, a defensive tackle, who emerged with the ball and ran 20 yards for the touchdown.
“The ball was right there, and I was like, ‘You better pick it up and go,’” Kaalberg said. “I was the first one there. That’s the first time I scored a touchdown. It happens; stuff happens, so I was like ‘Let’s go.’”
It might happen once, but three times?
With the Bears leading 13-0 in the first quarter Kinnick Boelk had his opportunity, returning a fumble 40 yards for a TD with 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
“I break to the guy, Jack (McCullough) was already there, I think he caused the fumble,” Boelk said. “I just picked it up and go.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words; I mean 61 points at half. We almost had as many points on defense as we did on offense.”
With the game already out of hand at 54-14, Saydel took his turn.
“I was just in my pass protection and saw my linebacker hit the kid (who fumbled),” Saydel said. “I just picked it up. I just saw green grass and a big kid running next to me. I thought he was going to catch me, but once I got to the 5-yard line I knew he wasn’t going to.”
He sprinted 45 yards to the end zone with 14 seconds left, and the Bears had scored an improbable 61 first-half points on nine touchdowns. It was also Saydel’s first varsity touchdown.
“They’re just opportunistic,” Bears coach Butch Pedersen said. “They have a nose for the ball.”
Lisbon fumbled seven times, losing three.
All three were turned into touchdowns.
The Lions had trouble with snaps to the punter which sailed and gave the Bears excellent field position.
As productive as the defense was, the offense pulled its share of the weight.
Quarterback Tye Hughes completed 12-of-14 first-half passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think offensively Tye Hughes had a great game,” Pedersen said. “He just feels comfortable here. He understands our system. We’ve changed some of his technique and I think that’s helped him. He’s not even reached his full potential yet. He’s got a bevy of receivers that will help him.”
Andy Henson caught three TD passes and rushed for another.
He caught five passes for 104 yards. He rushed seven times for 51 yards as Pedersen gave his workhorse back an unusually mild load.
Carver Boelk caught five passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
First downs 11 10
Rushes-yards 25-(-2) 25-84
Comp-att-int 13-21-0 13-16-0
Passing yards 239 215
Punts-avg. 5-30 4-34
Fumbles-lost 7-3 0-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 5-36
Lisbon 7 7 6 0 – 20
West Branch 33 27 0 0 – 61
WB – Jaxson Kaalberg 20 fumble recovery (Wyatt Fiderlein kick)
WB – Carver Boelk 23 pass from Tye Hughes (kick failed)
WB – Kinnick Boelk 40 fumble recovery (Fiderlein kick)
LIS – Luke Czarnecki 41 pass from Cohen Kamaus (Kamaus kick)
WB – Carver Boelk 32 pass from Hughes (Fiderlein kick)
WB – Hughes 2 run (kick failed)
WB – Andy Henson 71 pass from Hughes (Fiderlein kick)
LIS – Baylor Speidel 79 pass from Kamaus (Kamaus kick)
WB – Henson 20 pass from Hughes (Fiderlein kick)
WB – Henson 7 run (Fiderlein kick)
WB – Cale Seydel 45 run with fumble recovery (kick failed)
LIS – Czarnecki 38 pass from Kamaus (kick failed)
RUSHING – Lisbon: Cohen Kamaus 10-18, Kaden Caspers 6-12, Baylor Speidel 1-9, Tiernan Boots 2-0, Henry Neymeyer 1-(-1), team 4-(-40). West Branch: Andy Henson 7-51, Kinnick Boelk 2-20, Tye Hughes 8-15, Jarrett Ellyson 2-3, Evan Striegel 2-0, Logan Christofel 2-0, Connor Rios 1-0, team 1-(-5).
PASSING – Lisbon: Kamaus 11-19-0-239, Dakota Clark 0-2-0. West Branch: Tye Hughes 13-20-0-215, Rios 0-1-0.
RECEIVING – Lisbon: Speidel 3-97, Czarnecki 3-80, Gage Holub 2-45, Indy Harbaugh 1-12, Reid Fridley 1-6. Ben Morningstar 2-1, Caspers 1-(-3). West Branch: Carver Boelk 5-136, Henson 5-104, Trenton Schutte 3-15.