WATERLOO — It was a party 1,762 days in the making for the Waterloo East football team Friday night.
The Trojans forced four first-half turnovers, then put the game away with three quick third-quarter touchdowns en route to a 38-0 blowout of Des Moines North, helping them emphatically snap a 37-game losing streak.
“We said this game, the first game against North, we will win,” Trojan Coach Xavier Leonard said afterward. “They are not going back to Des Moines with a win. We worked since May 1 to get that done and that’s what we did.”
CEDAR FALLS — Every coach hopes his team plays well on opening night.
Things began in almost perfect fashion for East, which started its opening series in Polar Bear territory following Damon Johnson’s 43-yard return of the opening kickoff.
After quarterback Dylan Reyes picked up a third-down conversion with his legs, junior back Kendall Robinson found the end zone from 32 yards out on the next play.
“I told them I was going to do my best to get us (past) the 50-yard line, and that’s what I did,” Johnson said of the opening kickoff.
It would hardly be the last play the athletic senior would make in the half.
Aided by great pressure up front, Trojan defensive backs had a field day. Jacee Clark had two first-half interceptions while Johnson added another pick, as East held quarterback Tre’Vawn Jarrett to just five completions on 25 attempts.
After the offense stumbled a bit following the opening score, Johnson got things back on track before the half. After a 25-yard catch on the first play of the series, he scored on a 27-yard connection with Reyes to push the lead to 14-0 at the break.
“This is my last ride, this is my senior year. I just came out here and played ball,” said Johnson, who had 99 yards on four catches. “That’s what I do.”
Tasting victory for the first time in a long while, the Trojans came out and quickly put the contest away in the second half.
Tyrell Gordon kicked things off with a 22-yard touchdown run on the opening series. Reyes, who went 10-of-16 for 180 yards, then connected with fellow sophomore Daquavion Walker for a 45-yard score on the next drive to make the score 30-0.
Another sophomore, Ahkil Muhammad, closed out the scoring with a 38-yard run, as the Trojans coasted through a running-clock fourth quarter.
Any victory was going to be a welcome sight for the Trojans, who hadn’t experienced a win since Oct. 24, 2012.
But by winning by such a decisive margin, Leonard believes his young team will only grow more confident as it goes into a season where the program seems to have genuine promise for the first time in years.
“This is big for our community, big for our school,” Leonard said. “We needed this. We needed this bad and we got it.”
For Trojan seniors who’d endured nothing but losing going into Friday, the feeling was understandably a sweet one.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Clark said. “Being my senior year too. It’s a dream come true.”
The Trojans will once again be at home next Friday, when they host a Newton team which topped Ottumwa 42-7 in its season opener.
East 38, D.M. North 0
D.M. North 0 0 0 0 — 0
East 6 8 24 0 — 38
East—Kendall Robinson 32 run (kick blocked)
East—Damon Johnson 27 pass from Dylan Reyes (Johnson pass from Reyes)
East—Tyrell Gordon 22 run (Johnson pass from Reyes)
East—Daquavion Walker 45 pass from Reyes (Reyes run)
East—Ahkil Muhammad 38 run (Larenz Plum pass from Tanner Cronan)
First downs 10 9
Rushes-yards 24-103 31-184
Passing yards 54 200
Comp-att-int 5-25-3 12-19-0
Return yards 159 139
Punts-avg. 4-29.5 1-51
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 10-82 10-89
DES MOINES NORTH — Meshack Nahimana 18-67, Tre’Vawn Jarrett 5-3, Jordan Daniels 1-33.
EAST — Tyrell Gordon 6-47, Ahkil Muhammad 1-38, Dylan Reyes 12-32, Kendall Robinson 7-29, Damon Johnson 2-7, Scott Bickel 1-4, Tanner Cronan 2-minus 27.
DES MOINES NORTH — Jarrett 5-25-3, 54 yards
EAST — Reyes 10-16-0, 180 yards, Cronen 2-3-0, 20 yards
DES MOINES NORTH — Jachaun Hall 2-30, Jermain Daye 1-10, Jordan Daniels 1-8, Nahimana 1-6
EAST — Johnson 4-99, Ahkil Muhammad 1-45, Jacee Clark 4-34, Scott Bickel 2-20, Griffin Bender 1-2.