Bulldogs fall to Trojans at UNI Dome, end season
The Bulldogs were once again knocking on the door of a state championship game in its prolific history, but could not get the job done. As Bettendorf returned to the UNI Dome last Friday to take on Iowa City West, the team looked to avenge their loss to the Trojans last year in the opening round of the 4-A playoffs. This time around, the Dogs could just not get enough offense to power past the undefeated Iowa City West.
With what was most likely the largest student section this season, the Bulldogs had hundreds of fans travel up to Cedar Falls to the dubbed “home” of the Bettendorf program. The game started off back and forth, with the two offenses picking up a first down or two, then punting away after not continuing their drives. Bettendorf was unable to get receivers open long enough for quarterback Carter Bell to get a pass off, and the Trojan defensive line was dominating the trenches, not allowing running back Nijel McIntosh any space to march down the field.
The Bulldog offense was paralyzed, unable to get enough momentum to get any sort of threatening drive on Iowa City West. On the other hand, the Trojans were utilizing their diverse options on offense to move the ball forward. Trojan quarterback Evan Flitz made pass after pass, racking up 21 completions on the night for 281 passing yards (including two passing TD’s). Next to Flitz was running back Trumell Roberts who had more and more space as the Bulldogs had to respect the passing game consistently (Roberts totalled 108 rushing yards and a TD).
Bettendorf’s defense stayed solid throughout the first half, stopping the passing game as best they could against a top offense. Bettendorf held star Iowa City West receiver Traevis Buchanan to only three receptions, but had five players for the Trojans total over 20 yards receiving. Senior Mason Morris racked up nine tackles, and five Bulldogs eclipsed five tackles on the night.
In the end, it was all Iowa City West. Bettendorf’s offense could not get enough yardage on drives to get any sort of attack mounted. The Bulldogs’ best chance to score was on a interception by Josh Licata, which was taken into the red zone; however, the offense fumbled on the ensuing attempts, and the Trojans recovered. With the offense unable to get points on the board, the defense was starting to get more and more pressure. With the suffocatingly diverse Trojan attacks, the defense could not hold Iowa City West back. When the final whistle blew, the Bulldogs fell to the Trojans 0-23 as they did just a season ago.
Thus ends another season of Bulldogs on the gridiron. This season was an exciting autumn of the Bettendorf football program showing the state that it is still a competitive powerhouse. Bell, just a junior, performed (statistically and in game) at the top of the state, showing that he is one of the best of the position. He totalled 1347 passing yards on 93 completions at a rate of 66 percent, picking up 17 passing touchdowns. Bell also was the number two rusher for Bettendorf, piling 742 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. In front of Bell was McIntosh with 1174 yards and 17 rushes into the end zone.
Senior Ben Wilson led the team in receiving yards this season with 636 and tied junior Tyler Ciha in touchdowns with five each. On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs are graduating a large part of the defense. Senior Jatten Kuhrt (defensive end) led the team in tackles with 63 and had the most tackles for loss with 21. With defensive backs, seniors Dustin Harris and Blake Rollinger led the team in interceptions with four and two, respectively.
Finally, the Bulldogs lose two year kicker Justin Wehr, who went 53/56 on PATs and 5/7 on field goals this season.
Looking towards the future, the Dogs have a promising season next fall. Bettendorf will return the number twos in many positions like Darien Porter, who was behind Wilson throughout the season. Porter has been a vital part of the offense this season with his speed and picked up 251 receiving yards and four touchdowns this year.
Along with Porter on offense is Austin Kalar, who was fourth in rushing with 116 yards, finding the end zone once this season. Of course, do not forget that Bell will be returning next season and will be more skilled, more athletic, and more prepared for another shot at the Dome. The defense will return prolific linebacker Alex Blizzard who was right behind Kuhrt in tackles with 62.5. Along with Blizzard is defensive end Rocky Schoenfelder who was third in tackles and led the team in sacks with six.
With these juniors returning to the program next fall, the Bulldogs are surely to compete with the top of the state once again. While this year the Dogs may have not gotten their coveted eighth state championship, the team went undefeated in the district, beat rival Pleasant Valley (twice), and returned to the UNI Dome for the fourth time in five years, making up for the early bow out last year. The 2017 Bettendorf football team has showed the Quad City area as well as the entire state that the Bulldogs are a powerhouse to be reckoned with.