By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY– While many have dwelled on the huge hits to the West High varsity football roster from graduation, coach Brian Sauser and his Trojans honestly couldn’t care less.
That was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.
The 2013 edition of West High Football made a statement Friday, Aug. 30, as it opened the season with a 67-28 home field victory over the Linn-Mar Lions: the program is fine and as strong as ever, maybe even stronger.
Nate Boland, a senior, connected on 13 of 17 passes for over 300 yards. Boland didn’t have Dondre Alexander or Jeremy Morgan to throw to, but Anthony Batie (also a senior) did just fine with five receptions and a pair of touchdowns. Devin Raffensperger (senior), coming off a good season on the baseball diamond, was another target for Boland who held onto the ball and scored three times. A freshman, Oliver Martin, caught three passes for over 50 yards as well.
“Nate is probably the most underrated kid in the state of Iowa,” Sauser said after the game. “He did a great job last year, but every time we tried to talk about him, everybody said, ‘look who he’s throwing to.’ It still takes a kid back there throwing and I thought it was great for him to go out there and show what he’s capable of.”
The Trojans owned the first quarter, racking up a 19-0 lead on a short run by Raffensperger, Boland running 30-plus yards on a keeper and Boland hitting Batie nearly 40 yards out to score. The Lions threatened to score at the very end of the period and opened the second quarter with a 1-yard dash to get on the scoreboard. West retaliated with two more touchdowns as Boland scampered one yard to score and shortly after connected with Raffensperger.
The Lions showed they still had some fight left in them late in the half as they scored on a long pass. Micah Kelsay closed-out the half with another Trojan touchdown with just over a minute to go as he dived-in from one yard out to give West a 39-14 halftime lead.
During the break, Sauser said, “We felt like we were really better (than Linn-Mar) at all 22 spots. It was really a matter of us executing, and Linn-Mar is a good enough team to talk about if we don’t do our responsibilities, they’ll hurt you a little bit. We preached to them about being disciplined.”
The Trojan onslaught continued with three more touchdowns in the third, the first off a Kevin Dowell (junior) 5-yard run followed by a Boland keeper and capped by Boland hitting Batie for a 45-yard pass. The Lions put up one touchdown in the quarter off a 1-yard run. Clay Moel (senior) ran just over 30 yards to score in the fourth quarter and the Lions picked up one last touchdown with a little less than four minutes remaining.
Connor Gordon, a junior, nailed seven out of eight extra point kicks in the contest.
Sauser described his Trojans’ performance as “crisp.”
“We’re really strong out front and we had a sense the last few weeks in practice this whole line was really the best we’ve had in six years. We manhandled those guys (the Lions) on both sides of the ball, and that’s a great feeling for week one.”
Week two of the nine-week regular season takes West on the road to Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids to face Cedar Rapids Washington. The Warriors fell 14-10 to Cedar Rapids Kennedy.