The quick-strike Western Dubuque football team scored 41 points in the first half on its way to finishing off Center Point-Urbana, 41-7, in their Class 3A, District 4 battle in Center Point Oct. 4.
Calvin Harris and the Bobcats’ offense were clicking as they scored touchdowns on their first five possessions. Carter Kluesner recovered a fumble in the end zone for the defense’s first touchdown of the year to help Western Dubuque remain undefeated (5-0) and improve to 2-0 in district play.
“Our game plan was to be prepared for them to come after us. We expected that they would give us some one-on-one situations on the outside. They end up coming out in a totally different defense so we went to the run game and established that early,” said Justin Penner, head coach of the Bobcats. “All of our running backs ran angry and I think our offensive line resents the fact that we haven’t run the ball that much recently. We want to control the ground game and have the attitude that we can run on anybody.”
Staying committed to running the ball, the Bobcats marched down the field as Harris gave the ball to Jake Hosch who crashed into the end zone from the 4-yard line for the first touchdown of the game.
Harris crossed the goal line on a 12-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-0.
The Bobcats pressed pause on the running game while they checked the status of their ability to move the ball through the air. That part of their offense was working just fine too as Harris connected with Will Burds on a slant pattern for a 26-yard touchdown pass Then Harris showcased his arm strength and accuracy by hitting Burds in stride at the 20-yard line. He then waltzed into the end zone to complete a 50-yard touchdown.
Harris’ second running touchdown of the game finished the scoring for the Bobcats as they went into halftime up 41-0.
“We talk a lot about being present in the moment and focusing at the task that is before us and the guys are really buying into that. Even more so, these kids play the game the right way,” said Penner. “They play with passion and celebrate one another’s successes on the football field. I’m really loving the way our boys are playing the game right now.”
With all the success that the Bobcats’ offensive unit is having so far this season, it’s easy to overlook the job the defense is doing. Sure, the Harris-led offense is averaging almost 36 points a game so far this season, but the defense has allowed just 39 points in their six games.
The Pointers struggled to get any offense going. CPU (2-4, 1-1) had just 141 yards of total offense. They had three turnovers and punted the ball away five times.
“That speaks volumes on how dominant our defense has been. I think we’re a little different football team than we were a year ago. We got into a lot of track meets last year, but this year we are pulling our starters early because our defense is playing so well,” said Penner. “Carter Kluesner has really stepped up and is playing at a really high level. He had a few play break-ups for us and then recovered that fumble for a touchdown. Our guys are getting after it.
“These guys love the process and we have to enjoy practice each day because the teams who enjoy going to practice are the ones that get a lot better throughout the season. I think we proved that a year ago that we loved the process and the process loved us back in the end,” said Penner. “I’m just really proud of how our boys play with passion. Lots of people outside our program thought we’d be overlooking CPU and to be honest with you our guys aren’t overlooking any day of the week. I’m really proud of that and hopefully, we can stay focused all week long and get after Xavier on Friday night.”
WD’s Homecoming battle Friday night against Cedar Rapids Xavier will be a big one with a lot of eyes watching. It’s everybody’s game of the week. Not only is it a rematch of last year’s exciting Class 3A state championship, but it’s the number one ranked Bobcats hosting the second-ranked Saints.
“If we’re going to beat Xavier we’re going to have to play great defense. They just don’t give up a lot of points, but I think special teams will have a lot to do with the outcome of this game. We can’t be in third and long offensively. While Gabe Ulrichs and our punting unit was huge in our win over North Scott because we controlled field position, I think it will be a huge part of this football game too.”
WD’s leaders were: passing — Harris 11-of-18, 198 yards, two TDs; rushing — Jackson Burger 8-for-56 yards, Ben Bryant 4-for-41, Harris 3-for-33, Hosch 9-for-29 and a TD, Tommy DeSollar 1-for-19, Sawyer Nauman 3-for-18; receiving — Burds 3-for-72 yards and 2 TDs, DeSollar 1-for-46, Bryce Ploessl 2-for-35, Bryant 3-for-34, Logan Brosius 2-for-11; tackles — Collin Hogan and Dustin Wille four, Carter Kluesner 3.5, Burds, Nauman and Ploessl 2.5, DeSollar two, Caden Hickie 1.5, Bryant, Hosch and Garret Pitz one, Shane Beitzel, Brosius, Burger, Will Conlan, Nick Nelson, Cole Phillips and Kyle Schirmer 0.5; interceptions — Burds 1-for-25 yards; fumble recoveries — Kluesner one for a TD; kick-off returns — Hogan 1-for-20, Burds 1-for-16; extra points — Ulrichs 5-of-6; punts — Ulrichs 1-for-41 yards.