Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – After two losses to begin the season, albeit against state-ranked Williamsburg and Dike-New Hartford, the West Branch High School football team made some tweaks.
Captain and two-way starter Reese Trepanier moved from fullback to center, a position he occupied all of last season.
Sophomore Brennen Dale was inserted as the starting quarterback.
As a result, the Bears’ offense has come out of hibernation.
Fresh off season-high performances in rushing and passing last week in a win at Waterloo Columbus, West Branch opened Class 1A District 5 play Friday night with a 38-0 rout over Cascade at The Little Rose Bowl.
“You learn more from losing than winning sometimes,” Bears offensive coordinator John Hierseman said, “and we definitely learned a lot those first couple of weeks.”
Dale completed his first six passes of the game en route to 114 yards through the air.
The 6-foot and 175-pound Dale also had a 10-yard rushing score as West Branch (2-2, 1-0) built a 24-0 halftime advantage.
“I’ve been ready since Day 1,” Dale said. “When I got here, I wanted to make an impact and help this team win. I’m trying to do everything I can to help that.”
West Branch had four quarterbacks vying for the starting spot in preseason.
Connor Rios handled the position the first two weeks.
“(Brennen) being a sophomore, I think it helped him play a couple freshman-sophomore games to get some confidence and get some experience,” Hierseman said. “The way things worked out in practice and games, he’s stepped up and done a good job.”
Dale threw for 144 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in his first start last week on the road at Waterloo Columbus.
“Everyone likes Brennen,” two-way starter Cale Seydel said. “He’s funny, has a good arm and knows how to read coverages.”
But more than his physical tools, Dale has brought another element to the Bears’ attack.
“The biggest thing he brings is just really good energy,” Hierseman said.
“I always love to be talking, building my guys up and getting them excited to play,” Dale stated. “I want to go out and score every possession. It feels good to put up 38 tonight.”
Defense and special teams played a role in that.
Cascade (0-4, 0-1) was limited to three first downs and 71 total yards in the opening half.
The Cougars fumbled on their opening snap and the Bears’ Conner Capper recovered.
Three plays later, Dale hit Seydel for a 13-yard touchdown reception.
The Bears added two more touchdowns and a field goal in the first half thanks to field position set up by their defense.
West Branch started its second scoring drive at Cascade’s 45-yard line and its third at its own 49. Sophomore Reese Gingerich booted through a 27-yard field goal, a drive which started at Cascade’s 40, right before halftime.
Trepanier’s return to center has stabilized the offensive line. West Branch ran for 128 yards.
“Things have just started flowing really well,” Trepanier said.
“It has been way better in practice,” Dale noted. “We’ve been executing way better with the plays and our line has been blocking way better. We’re trying to do everything we can.”
West Branch didn’t need to do much offensively after halftime.
Joe Hamann returned the opening kickoff of the second half 93 yards for a touchdown.
Trepanier blocked a punt on Cascade’s ensuing possession and sophomore Cooper Gates capped it with a 9-yard touchdown run to induce the 35-point continuous clock.
“Our defense played lights-out,” Hierseman said. “We had really good field position all night, but I still feel like we should have cashed in a couple more touchdowns.
“Overall, it was a pretty business-like game. We took care of what we needed to do.”
Hamann, a senior, is playing football for the first time since junior high.
“He’s a kid we’re making into a football player,” Hierseman said. “He listens well, learns quickly and is a great athlete. He’s a lot of fun to coach.
“He told me after that long touchdown return, ‘Coach, that’s a lot easier than offense. Why don’t we do that every time?’”
West Branch travels to Dyersville next Friday to face Beckman before a pivotal showdown with rival Regina in two weeks at Butch Pedersen Field.
“We definitely have got a lot of momentum going,” Trepanier said.
“We’ve got to keep building,” Dale said. “Those first two games were good tests and humbled us, so we’ve got to keep working. We’re not going to be satisfied until we’re in the Dome.”
First downs 9 15
Rushes-yards 29-87 33-128
Comp-Att-Int 12-25-1 12-20-0
Passing yards 95 114
Total yards 182 242
Punts-avg. 6-25.0 2-47.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-15 0-0
Cascade 0 0 0 0 – 0
West Branch 14 10 14 0 – 38
WB – Cale Seydel 13 pass from Brennen Dale (Reese Gingerich kick)
WB – Dale 10 run (Gingerich kick)
WB – Zach Capper 4 run (Gingerich kick)
WB – Gingerich 27 field goal
WB – Joe Hamann 93 kickoff return (Gingerich kick)
WB – Cooper Gates 9 run (Gingerich kick)
RUSHING — Cascade: Juan Alvarado 10-37, Will Hosch 9-35, Cass Hoffman 6-19, Mick Hoffman 1-4, Eli Fritz 1-0, Team 2-(-8). West Branch: Auron Marsh 9-40, Cooper Gates 7-29, Brennen Dale 11-24, Zach Capper 4-19, Connor Rios 1-8, Cale Seydel 1-8.
PASSING — Cascade: Hosch 12-25-1 95 yards. West Branch: Dale 12-20-0 114 yards.
RECEIVING — Cascade: Nathan Schockemoehl 5-68, Cass Hoffman 4-16, Mick Hoffman 2-11, Alvarado 1-0. West Branch: Seydel 5-42, Holden Arnaman 2-26, Jake Swisher 2-23, Trenton Schutte 2-15, Capper 1-8.