Ok, now we’re rolling.
Gateway area football programs went a collective 4-3 in Week 1, which is a favorable start considering the challenges the season-opener brings each and every year.
There were highlights – Central DeWitt picking up where it left off last season with a 20-10 win over Center Point-Urbana – and moments that will provide motivation moving forward, such as Clinton’s 42-0 loss at the hands of a well-oiled Western Dubuque team that entered the fall as the No. 1 team in Class 3A.
Let’s take a look at each team, how it fared in Week 1 contests and take a peek at Friday night’s opponent. (Clinton will be excluded from this list, as the River Kings travel to Davenport for a rare Thursday night contest against West at Brady Street Stadium).
Fulton Steamers (0-1)
Like Clinton, the schedule did Fulton little favors out of the gate, as the Steamers were tasked with a road trip to a state-ranked opponent in Princeton.
The Tigers were ready.
Fulton committed turnovers on its first two drives to start the game, both of which resulted in Tigers’ touchdowns to push the Steamers in an early deficit, which is not the way to beat a high caliber team on the road.
“It is not a good formula to start with two turnovers in your first four offensive plays,” FHS coach Patrick Lower said at Wednesday night’s KROS River City Sports Review show. “That’s a high-powered, state-ranked football team and it was kind of an onslaught from the beginning.”
Following the 45-7 defeat, Fulton will look to correct its play for a matchup with St. Bede, who were thumped by local team Morrison 41-7 in last week’s action.
“We have another good opponent this week in St. Bede, and they have quickness but they don’t have the size as Princeton,” Lower said. “We are ready to move on and we have had a very good week of practice.”
Camanche Indians (1-0)
For the second year in a row, Camanche started its season with a convincing victory over local foe Northeast, this time by a 41-7 margin.
The offense clicked in its first action with quarterback Jordan Lawrence, who has a handful of familiar faces at his disposal.
Ethan Buckley, a Camanche senior who plays multiple varsity sports, did not see significant time on offense last season but stepped into his role seamlessly on Friday, showing his big-play potential with three catches for 109 yards and two scores. Caleb Delzell, a 6-foot-7 junior known for his keen basketball prowess, also nabbed a touchdown pass, using his tall frame to execute a fade route from the 11-yard line.
Raul Esparza garnered 100 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.
Given the offensive triumph, Camanche coach Dustin Coit was also pleased with the other side of the ball.
“Northeast is really big and [Dakota] Stevenson runs hard so we were a little worried about the run game coming in,” Coit said. “Our defense played really well, made some nice tackles and also made some really nice plays.”
The Indians will open its home schedule with Bellevue Friday. The Comets, riddled with youth up and down the roster this season, lost their first game to Edgewood-Colesburg, 28-7.
“They got hit by graduation pretty hard last year,” Coit said. “They are young but they have a lot of good athletes so we are going to have to be ready to go and match their physicality.”
Northeast Rebels (0-1)
First-year coach Mark Lee and the Rebels are back to the drawing board after a loss to Camanche opening night.
Northeast graduated quarterback Nate Lange and receiving standouts Braeden Hoyer and Dawson Stoll prior to this season, but there is still playmaking ability on the roster.
The Rebels just need to piece it all together. Dakota Stevenson is a reliable running back, and the senior rushed for 87 yards on 19 carries against the Indians. Fellow senior Jacob Mickelson pitched in 53 yards.
Northeast will again play on its home field Friday, where it hosts Wilton. This could be a prime opportunity for the Rebels to secure a victory, as the Beavers lost their opener 24-0.
Central DeWitt Sabers (1-0)
The Sabers turned in the perfect sequel to an impressive campaign a year ago, opening the season with a hard-fought 20-10 win over Center Point-Urbana.
Ethan Pierce led a stout defensive effort with nine total tackles while Caleb Pace and Connor Scheer both added 4.5.
Central DeWitt will have its hands full with a trip to Maquoketa to take on a talented Cardinals team that beat Anamosa 42-21 last week. Plus, the Sabers will likely be without starting quarterback Henry Bloom (injury).
“Maquoketa is very good,” Central DeWitt coach Ryan Streets said. “They are big and physical. It will be a tough battle for us. We need to tackle and have no stupid mistakes.”
Easton Valley River Hawks (1-0)
Considering a lack of seniors, the River Hawks did not expect to miss a beat after last season’s smooth transition to 8-man football.
And miss a beat they did not.
Easton Valley downed Dunkerton 63-31 last week behind massive statistics across the board, including Nate Trenkamp’s 376 yards and eight touchdowns. (Yes, eight touchdowns).
Trenkamp found six different targets, including Cade Jargo, who registered 120 yards and three scores while Braydin Farrell had two touchdowns.
“Last week’s game was a good start to the season,” Easton Valley coach Tony Johnson said. “I felt the team performed well. Like many Week 1 games we have things to work on gearing up for next week.”
Johnson praised the Easton Valley fan base for making the roughly two-hour jaunt to Dunkerton last week. On Friday, however, they won’t have to go as far, as the River Hawks are set to play the first of two consecutive home contests against Lone Tree.
“They are a solid team with many ways to attack us offensively,” Johnson said. “We will definitely need to play four quarters of football, but the team is looking forward to the challenge.”
Morrison Mustangs (1-0)
The Mustangs came out of the gate firing on all cylinders en route to a lopsided 41-7 over St. Bede last Friday night.
Morrison, who is expected to be a force in the running game this season, exceeded those expectations tenfold but also showed significant signs of optimism in the aerial attack to hang a crooked number on the scoreboard and a “1” in the win column.
Hunter Newman scored on rushing and receiving plays and Nathan Mickley delivered the final blow with a 77-yard score to take a 41-7 advantage, which held as the final.
Nate Helms looked comfortable in his first season-opener as a varsity quarterback, completing mid-range and deep passes while also using his legs to pick up extra yards, including a scamper for 16 yards that moved the sticks on 3rd-and-15 in the first half.
This week, the Mustangs will welcome in Sherrard, who dropped a 37-30 shootout to Rockridge last week. The Tigers will present a avid challenge for Morrison, and it will be intriguing to see if the Mustangs can duplicate their offensive success once again.