KEOSAUQUA, IA – Following a double-digit, 40-21 victory in their season opener last Friday night versus Central Lee, the Van Buren County Warriors (1-0, 1A-6) hoped to open District play by achieving a goal they hadn’t met in over 12 years, winning their first two games to open a football season. The opponent standing in their way was the Mediapolis Bulldogs (1-1, 1A-6) who since dropping down to Class 1A two years ago, had outscored the Warrior 96-12 in their two meetings.
Both teams struggled through the wet field conditions early in the game with the Van Buren County offense going three-and-out on their first drive of the night, and then Bulldogs senior quarterback Regan Thornburg being stripped of the pigskin by Warrior safety Wyatt Mertens on Mediapolis’ opening series. A scoreless tie was broken, however, with under three minutes to play in the first quarter as Thornburg connected with junior Kadin Salek for a 25-yard touchdown to capture the 7-0 lead, capping a 95-yard drive. The scoring toss was the first of three on the night for the right-hander, as Thornburg seemingly found his grip on the rain-soaked football with two more touchdowns in the first half, four yards to Cole Lipper, and a 71-yard strike to Logan Thie, taking the lead to three touchdowns, 21-0, going into halftime.
With the rain coming down harder at the start of the second half, Mediapolis switched to the ground attack offensively with junior Josh Darbyshire running in a pair of touchdowns, four- and seven-yard scores, and sophomore Ben Egan breaking six tackles en route to a 13-yard trip to pay dirt to push the advantage to 41-0 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. After rushing for 382 yards, their most since 2013, the Warriors offense was stymied by the Mediapolis front eight, mustering a mere 145 yards on the ground, unofficially, on41 carries.
However, Van Buren County was able to avoid the shutout as sophomore fullback Sam Warth ran in his fourth touchdown of the season on a 10-yard carry with 5:21 left to play, making the score 41-6 after a failed two-point conversion. With the running clock 35-point advantage rule in effect, the Buldogs were able to pick up three first downs on their following drive to bleed the remainder of the clock and secure the 35-point win.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Van Buren County, as the Warriors will travel to take on the number-six ranked team in Class 1A, Sigourney-Keota (3-0, 1-0 1A-6), next Friday night. Mediapolis is scheduled to return home next Friday to host the Pekin Panthers (1-1, 1A-6), although the squad from Packwood had to cancel their match-up versus Cardinal this week due to positive COVID-19 tests on the team.