Spartan football team opens their season with big wins over two quality opponents

%E2%80%9CThe+scoreboard+during+the+rally+in+the+valley+after+Pleasant+Valley+defeats+North+Scott+on+Sept.+4.+

Clay Hockaday

“The scoreboard during the rally in the valley after Pleasant Valley defeats North Scott on Sept. 4.

Michael VanDerSchaaf, Sports Editor

The Pleasant Valley Spartan football team started the 2018 and 2019 seasons with zero wins and three losses to Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids Prairie, and North Scott. However, the Spartans turned things around this season, and have started their year going 2-0.

Senior Kellen Hornbuckle is very aware of the importance of starting this season with two wins. “Having a little bit of confidence after two games is really just a game changer,” said Hornbuckle. “We still have a lot to prove and we’re getting people’s attention.”

The past two seasons have been a struggle for the Spartans. The 2018 season featured a 5-4 team that had to win its last four games to be playoff eligible. The Spartans then lost their opening playoff game against Bettendorf, the team that started their underwhelming season.

The 2019 season got even uglier for the Spartans. They started 0-3 just as the previous team did. The team was inexperienced, and it showed on Friday nights. The team finished the season with a 4-5 record and missed the playoffs. 

These fluke seasons have put a bad taste in the football team’s mouth, and they were ecstatic when they heard the news of Gov. Kim Reynolds letting them play this fall.

The Spartans opened their season against Class A powerhouse Iowa City Regina: a team the Spartans scheduled less than 60 hours before kickoff. “That short notice was definitely different for our guys, but they adjusted well and got ready for the game,” said head coach Rusty VanWetzinga.

Pleasant Valley started the game slow: as any team would during their first game. They found themselves up 21-13 at halftime in a very competitive game. The second half was all Spartans, scoring 24 unanswered points to beat the Regals 45-13.

Coach VanWetzinga was proud of his players after the victory. “It was great to see our guys put it together with such short notice,” said VanWetzinga, “It made us excited for what this team could do.”

Week one was a game that nearly everyone expected the Spartans to reign victorious. Although the Regals have shown that they can dominate lower classes, they were not expected to match up to a quality 4A team like the Spartans. 

However, Week 2 brought along a tougher opponent for the Spartans as they faced the North Scott Lancers.

 

The Spartans hosted the Lancers on Sept. 4 as their home opener. The Lancers had gone undefeated against the Spartans since the 2015 season, so the Spartans were eager to get another shot at them.

The Lancers, led by backup quarterback Grayson Juel, did not miss a beat on the opening drive. The Lancers drove down the field and scored just a couple minutes into the game. The Spartans started slow once again, but with solid second quarter play went into the half tied 10-10. The Spartans once again proved they were a second half team, with a 14-0 run over the Lancers to win the game 24-10.

The team believes that these two big wins make them a dangerous team this season. “We’re going to have a target on our back all season and teams are going to game plan in different ways to try to stop us,” stated Hornbuckle, “We just have to play our football and execute to the best of our ability to stay ahead of everyone else.”

The Spartans are comfortable with the spot they are in. Their next opponents are Muscatine, Davenport Central, and then cross-town rival Bettendorf. They feel as though they are in a far greater spot than they’ve been the past couple years and believe they have the pieces to make a deep playoff run.