Rebels put Warriors on ice
Seventh-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck shuts out No. 4 Wapsie Valley in Class A opener
FAIRBANK — A blast of arctic weather hit the state just in time to give Friday’s opening round of the Iowa State Football Playoffs an almost professional playoff atmosphere, as the sub-freezing temperatures felt more like January than late October.
That cold weather couldn’t cool down the red-hot Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team as the Class A No. 7 Rebels shut out No. 4 Wapsie Valley 14-0 to kick off their second-straight title defense.
While defense is usually the star of the show in a shutout, it was the offense in general that took center stage for Gladbrook-Reinbeck, as the Rebels used a ground-and-pound approach to control the clock and physically wear down the Warriors.
Quarterback Hunter Lott said he gives all the credit from Friday’s win to his offensive line and running backs.
“Our offensive line played tremendously today, they absolutely did, and our coaches put us in the right position to put the right plays in and then Gage Murty was a horse for us today,” Lott said after hugging his family once the final horn had sounded.
Murty truly did carry the ball well for G-R, running for 54 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Many of those runs were in the second half as well, helping the Rebels wind down the clock on Wapsie Valley’s attempts at a comeback.
Murty said he liked that his number was called to do the heavy lifting in the second half to hand the Warriors their first loss of the year.
“Coming in and playing a team like Wapsie, they are a powerhouse, ranked team,” he said. “That second half was big for us as far as how we kept running the ball instead of passing it and getting first downs.”
All year, the Rebels have relied on big plays either in the run or passing game for their points, but that wasn’t the case on Friday night. Both of their touchdown drives, one of which was capped off by a short reception by Matt Johannsen and the other by a short run by Murty, came off the back of a long, methodical offensive drive.
Because of that ability to chew up yards and the clock, G-R head coach John Olson said he couldn’t have scripted a better offense for this game.
“To be honest, this is the best our offense has played,” he said. “We went on a 96-yard drive, we went on an 80-something-yard drive, and that’s because of our offensive line. We’ve had bigger plays and maybe 400 or 500 yards in a game, but against a defense like this that gives up no points or yards? We are extremely excited about that.”
During the postseason, games can come down to the little things more often than not, and Olson said the way his offensive coordinator called the game was just one step ahead of the Warriors defense.
“We could have thrown the ball a lot more tonight, but I think our offensive coordinator, Darren Trunck, did a good job of mixing and matching stuff and not knowing when this play is going to come and we made their defense shift a little bit,” he said. “They had some corners that were flipping sides, they weren’t sure what’s coming, they couldn’t blitz all the time. We got the edge sometimes on them, which I didn’t think we would get, I thought it was just great execution from our offense tonight.”
Of course, the defense contributed a spectacular game, too, forcing Wapsie Valley into two turnovers on the night, including one that essentially sealed the game in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors had a good drive going that had reached inside the Rebels 10-yard line with a little over three minutes left to play. After going out the play previously, Lott returned to the defensive backfield for a second-down play, and Wapsie Valley ran a short pass to his side.
Lott immediately stuck the receiver, forcing him to fumble, and senior Seth Gretillat scooped up the ball and returned it back into Warriors territory.
“I hit him but I didn’t know he fumbled,” Lott said recalling the key defensive stop. “I look up and see Seth Gretillat running down the sideline and that put a smile across my face.”
Lott finished the game with four solo tackles and nine assists, only outdone by senior lineman Mason Skovgard’s two solos and 10 assists, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
All night, the Rebel defensive line wreaked havoc on the Wapsie Valley front, and Skovgard said that had to do with some great game planning by the coaches.
“We had a couple of guys playing in different positions,” Skovgard said. “Bronson Wrage played defensive end and I got moved to tackle, we were moving a touch but a lot of scouting went into this. Coach Olson had a great game plan going in and it was just fun.”
Winning is always fun, especially in the playoffs, but if the Rebels want to continue this run they will have to have another great gameplan to go on the and defeat No. 9 St. Ansgar (10-0) in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal.
Olson said heading into the postseason he wasn’t quite sure exactly what his team was made of, but after Friday’s win he has a better inkling.
“I think we knew we were a good team, but I don’t know if we made that step to awesome or great and I don’t know if we are there yet,” he said. “You always have that game where you say ‘OK, we now are a physical offensive running team,’ and that’s just another weapon that we have.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck and St. Ansgar are set to kick off next Friday at 7 p.m. in St. Ansgar for their quarterfinal matchup.
G-R 0 6 0 8 — 14
WV 0 0 0 0 — 0
G-R — Matt Johannsen 7 pass from Hunter Lott (pass failed), 3:36.
G-R — Gage Murty 3 run (Walker Thede pass from Lott), 7:01.
First downs 14 17
Rushes-yards 34-117 46-206
Comp-Att-Int 10-16-0 8-18-0
Passing Yards 88 76
Total Offense 205 282
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 1-5 3-15
Time of Poss. 23:28 24:32
RUSHING — G-R: Murty 15-54, Thede 5-43, Lott 10-15, Keagan Giesking 2-6, Johannsen 2-(minus-1); WV: Jake Kuhlman 21-104, Colin Schrader 19-81, Tanner Sauerbrei 6-21.
PASSING — G-R: Lott 10-16-88-0; WV: Sauerbrei 8-18-76-0.
RECEIVING — G-R: Johannsen 5-45, Thede 3-19, Giesking 1-14, Murty 1-10; WV: Ben Erhardt 4-40, Austin Wittenburg 2-20, Kuhlman 1-9, Ben Rundquist 1-7.