English Valleys dominates home opener

Cooper Andreassen celebrates with teammates after one of his three touchdowns in the 70-6 rout of Twin Cedars. Andreassen rushed for 116 yards and two scores and tacked on another touchdown on a kick return.

The English Valleys football squad ended last season with a losing skid after starting the year off with some promising wins, one of which was an overtime nail biter against Twin Cedars. The Bears and Sabers met up again on Friday, August 17 but this time it wasn’t close. A dominating effort from all sides of the ball resulted in a 70-6 rout of the Sabers and quite the showing for the home fans.

It wasn’t known what the Sabers would throw at the Bears in the first game of the season with English Valleys having last seen them nearly one year ago. In the matchup last season, the Sabers relied on edge rushing and some run pass option type plays. Studying the film from that game was just part of the process head coach Mike Gerard emphasized in getting his men prepared for the game.

“We had them doing a lot of film study,” Gerard said. “We’ve played Twin Cedars for several years now and the one thing that they always do is run a lot of the same plays and formations, they use what works for their kids. It may be different players but they’re still going to run the same types of plays.”

After deferring on the kickoff, the Bears defense was sent out onto the field in their first action of the year. Twin Cedars was making slow progress with their ground game, but their drive came to a halt after an intercepted pass around midfield. The first play on offense for the Bears led to a touchdown as Cael Hester dropped a pass into the open arms of Clayton Moore and he did the rest to find the endzone.

“Anytime you get a turnover you want to score off it right away,” Gerard said. “It puts you on a complete high and takes the wind out of the other team. Something like that is immeasurable for what it can do for these kids.”

That was just the beginning as English Valleys worked their way down the field again on their next drive. This time it was Cooper Andreassen who was rewarded with a score as he took the snap in the wildcat and punched it in. Twin Cedars responded with their best drive of the game, needing only two plays to end the shutout. Andreassen was back at it, this time on special teams, tearing off a big chunk of yards on the kick return.

In addition to the lengthy return, a facemask penalty on Twin Cedars moved the ball down to the 20 yard line to give the Bears great field position in the red zone. A quick drive resulted in another score as Hester kept the ball on a draw and another two points from Andreassen pushed the lead to 24-6. Just as it seemed Twin Cedars might bounce back with a scoring drive themselves, the Sabers QB coughed up the ball and it was recovered by the Bears.

Most of the plays from there on out were kept on the ground with a combination of Caleb Peach, Andreassen and Hester to keep the ball moving downfield. Peach got into the endzone after he found a hole and used some blocking downfield to clear the way and Hester tacked on two with a draw play.

“Our line did a very nice job all game long, both offensively and defensively,” Gerard said. “We knew our defense would be strong this year with the guys we brought back. A lot of the time they’re lining up in one formation and then they’re checking up and adjusting.”

The Bears defense had been knifing their way through the line all game long and they were finally rewarded with a sack in the endzone for a safety, making the score 34-6. Special Teams kept the momentum going as Andreassen returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the endzone, going nearly untouched for six more points. The Bears closed out the opening quarter with yet another score and two-point conversion to hit the half century mark while holding Twin Cedars to single digits.

The Bears continued to limit the chances and yardage for Twin Cedars in the second quarter which began with a quick interception. The offense worked their way down the field as they had all game long and Peach picked up another score with a wildcat run to push the lead to 50 points.

The second half was a continuation of what transpired in the first half except for a faster moving clock. Twin Cedars put together another drive that fell just short of scoring as the pass was picked off in the endzone to end the threat. Andreassen tacked on another score to his total and backup QB Cole Stephenson logged some quality minutes along with some of the other second-string guys.

Stephenson added his name to the scoring list with a keeper and Beau Flander converted for two more points to end the scoring. The Bears nearly went the whole game without having to punt but that ended after a holding penalty on a short fourth down conversion.

“We were expecting our guys to play hard. We didn’t change much from last season and we knew what our kids were capable of,” Gerard said. “They understand we can win games like this now. All the kids played great and played physical. Our wide receivers had some great blocking as well and that unfortunately doesn’t show up in the stats.”

Stat Breakdown

Offense: Cael Hester – 59 yards passing on three completions for one touchdown, longest of 42 yards. 14 yards rushing on four carries for four touchdowns.

 Cooper Andreassen – 116 yards rushing on 13 carries (8.9 yards/carry) for two touchdowns.

 Caleb Peach – 78 yards rushing on 10 carries for three touchdowns.

 Clayton Moore – One reception for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Defense: Caleb Peach – eight tackles, six solo and one solo sack.

 Beau Flander – five tackles, three solo.

   Kaden Hall/Brayden Mikesell/Clayton Moore – one interception each

 Cael Hester – one fumble recovery

English Valleys has a slew of road games coming up with their next game being at Winfield Mt. Union on August 24. The next home game for the Bears is scheduled to be against Iowa Valley on September 28.

“I think the big thing for us is to get the kids to understand we’re heading into district play right off the bat,” Gerard said. “We have to be the most physical team on the field and keep doing the things we’ve been doing.”