MEDIAPOLIS, IA – For the first time in six seasons, the Van Buren County Warriors (1-5, 1A-6) geared up for a playoff Friday night on the road against a familiar foe, district opponent Mediapolis (5-2, 1A-6). In the other locker room, Friday night’s game was just another postseason outing for the Bulldogs, who were making their 18th playoff appearance all-time and their third straight. Despite being familiar with the postseason, however, a win had escaped Head Coach Brian Borrison’s teams the past few years, as Mediapolis entered Friday having lost their last four straight first round meetings, dating back to 2013.
But not only did the Bulldogs have their previous playoff experience to rely upon, Mediapolis also came in with a strong knowledge of their opponent, having won 41-6 in Keosauqua during Week Three of the regular season. And the familiarity seemingly paid off as within the first 9:45 of game time, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 41-0 lead. It took Mediapolis merely eight plays from scrimmage to score six touchdowns with scoring drives of one, two, one, one, and three plays, respectively. The Bulldogs also added another score to the board with four seconds remaining in the opening quarter on a 63-yard punt return touchdown from Kadin Salek, pushing the lead to 47-0. Mediapolis added another score with 14 seconds left in the half as senior quarterback Regan Thornburg connected with tight end Cole Lipper on a 14-yard touchdown pass, Thornburg’s fourth of the game, ballooning the lead to 54-0.
With several starters already sidelined due to injuries suffered earlier this season, the Warriors lost their leading rusher, sophomore fullback Sam Warth, midway through the first quarter due to an apparent lower body injury. His injury left Van Buren with only 21 players dressed out for the final three quarters. Still, despite the big deficit and the low numbers, the boys in white continued to fight into the second half. Senior quarterback Lane Davis capped a 93-yard scoring drive in his final game at the helm of the Warriors with a one-yard touchdown run with 7:52 to play, avoiding the shutout, 54-6.
The defense also shined in the second half against the Bulldogs’ second string, limiting Mediapolis to just 49 yards, unofficially in the third and fourth quarters, and keeping the home team from further adding to their lead. With over half of the roster this season for Head Coach Brian Johnson and the Warriors being made up of freshmen and sophomores, performances like the second half give the coaching staff, and fans, excitement and optimism moving forward.
With the big win, Mediapolis advances to the second round of the Class 1A playoffs next Friday night on the road against the West Branch Bears (5-2, 1A-5).