EPWORTH — It was a scene that could be found throughout the state on a chilly fall night in Iowa.
Long after the final horn sounded on Western Dubuque’s dominant 47-21 first round playoff home win, Waverly-Shell Rock’s 13 seniors gathered for a one last photo together in their football attire.
Scoreboards aren’t the only measure of success on Friday nights. At the end of a 4-4 season that included a road win over district champion Decorah, W-SR head coach Mark Hubbard praised the resilience and leadership shown by his seniors as they helped a core of youthful talent build a foundation for future victories.
“This group of seniors won one junior high football game,” Hubbard said. “They struggled a little bit as freshmen. Credit to those 13 guys for sticking with it.
“They’re the ones that had the guts and determination and toughness to stick with it when they weren’t winning. They’re not happy with the way it ended tonight, nobody is, but we really are thankful that those guys stayed in the program when it would have been so easy to quit and jump off the wagon.”
Waverly-Shell Rock (4-4) had shown rapid growth entering postseason play, but Class 3A’s defending state champion Western Dubuque broke out of a two-game lull and found another gear of its own.
“Phenomenal week of practice,” Western Dubuque head coach Justin Penner told his exuberant team afterwards. “That’s why we were able to get this done.”
Bobcats’ strong-armed quarterback Garrett Baumhover looked as though he was trying to overthrow his receivers at times, but they wouldn’t let him as Waverly-Shell Rock’s defense was burnt by a barrage of big plays.
Dakota Lau tracked down a pair of bombs for 41-yard touchdowns. Tommy DeSollar made a nifty 22-yard scoring play in single coverage in the first half before essentially sealing the victory with a 76-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
“I think I’ve got the best crew in the state,” Baumhover said after passing for 197 yards. “I’ve got guys that really track the ball down and just get open for me so it makes my job easy.”
DeSollar’s second TD reception completed a dramatic second-half swing.
Waverly-Shell Rock scored its first touchdown with 16 seconds prior to halftime when fullback McCrae Hagarty’s 41-yard run helped set up a 10-yard TD from Brady Ramker to Ryan Folkerts.
WSR then further cut into its 27-7 halftime deficit with a three-and-out on defense. Special teams pressure that forced a short punt, and a 43-yard Go-Hawk drive of well-executed Wing-T football was capped by a 2-yard Hagarty run.
Western Dubuque’s Baumhover and Lau answered with their second 41-yard connection, but WSR looked poised to score again before Ryker Staudenmaier took a pass away from Asa Newsom in the end zone. The 76-yard deep ball to DeSollar came two plays later.
Beyond the passing attack, Western Dubuque’s physical fullback Spencer Zinn rushed for 201 yards on 14 carries highlighted by a 97-yard touchdown after WSR was stopped on fourth down inside the red zone.
The Go-Hawks’ Wing-T offense was plagued by an untimely illegal procedure and three holding penalties to go with a lost fumble in the first half as Western Dubuque pulled away.
“They’re explosive and there’s such small margin for error with a team like that,” Hubbard said.
Following back-to-back losses, Baumhover said his team felt like they had to show they could still play Bobcat football.
“We knew it was win or go home so we had to give our best effort no matter what and we just left it all on the table,” Baumhover said. “We’ve got a lot of experience on this team. The juniors, they traveled with them (the 2019 state champion squad). I think that goes a long way.”
For Waverly-Shell Rock, the future is bright with a core of underclassmen that filled key roles on the field this season.
“Now it’s time to turn potential into performance,” Hubbard said. “We’ve got a lot of potential and we’ve got to turn that into performance and we’re going to get started on that pretty quick.”
Preps to Watch: Fall 2020
Fall 2020 sports Preps to Watch
Western Dubuque 47, Waverly-S.R. 21
Waverly-S.R. 0 7 7 7 — 21
Western Dubuque 14 13 13 7 — 47
WD — Dakota Lau 41 pass from Garrett Baumhover (Eric Monahan kick)
WD — Spencer Zinn 1 run (Monahan kick)
WD — Tommy DeSollar 22 pass from Baumhover (kick failed)
WD — Zinn 6 run (Monahan kick)
WSR — Ryan Folkerts 10 pass from Brady Ramker (Simon Ott kick)
WSR — McCrae Hagarty 2 run (Ott kick)
WD — Lau 41 pass from Baumhover (Monahan kick)
WD — DeSollar 76 pass from Baumhover (kick failed)
WD — Zinn 97 run (Monahan kick)
WSR — Simon Ott 18 pass from Grant Halverson (Andy Roose kick)
First downs 17 18
Rushes-yards 52-271 31-373
Comp-att-int 9-15-1 8-11-0
Passing yards 162 197
Punts-avg 4-33.75 2-24.5
Fumbles-lost 4-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-73 5-40
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — McCrae Hagarty 18-106, Asa Newsom 14-58, Jack Kramer 5-16, Brady Ramker 3-25, Ryan Folkerts 3-38, Jonathan Wessel 3-12, Sean Mwangi 2-4, Donovan Wessel 1-8, Grant Halverson 2-5, Jay McMillan 2-4.
WESTERN DUBUQUE — Spencer Zinn 14-201, Dominic Frost 5-77, Jacob Butcher 7-65, Kaleb Reed 2-13, Grayson Gardner 2-6, Garrett Baumhover 1-11.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — Ramker 4-8-1, 70 yards, Grant Halverson 5-7-0, 92 yards.
WESTERN DUBUQUE — Baumhover 8-11-0, 197 yards.
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK — Mikey Santoiemma 1-40, Mwangi 1-27, Simon Ott 1-18, Kaiser Luck 1-16, J. Wessel 1-16, Lane Shears 1-15, Hagarty 1-12, Ryan Fokerts 1-10, Newsom 1-8 .