By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
WAVERLY — During the latter half of the season, the Charles City Comets were without several key players, mainly due to injuries.
After Friday’s 47-0 loss to Waverly-Shell Rock in the regular-season finale, the Comets lost a lot more. And head coach Darren Bohlen feels they’re going to be hard to replace.
“The seniors on this team,” Bohlen said while trying to keep his emotions in check after hugging several of his departing players goodbye, “are going to be missed. Their leadership and work ethic are going to be missed.
“This is best group of seniors I’ve had … maybe those from our last playoff team rank up there with them. They’re the reason for our great start this season.”
After dropping a 1-point loss to Crestwood during a downpour-plagued season-opener, Charles City rolled off four straight wins. But just as they entered the toughest part of their schedule, injuries began to take a toll on the Comets.
During the first half of the season, Charles City was dominant defensively. But with some of their fastest players with a nose for the ball and best open-field tacklers on the sidelines in street clothes, the Comets became more vulnerable to big plays.
And big plays are what did them in against the Class 3A No. 10-ranked and playoff-bound Go-Hawks.
W-SR senior quarterback Luke Velky rushed for a game-high 139 yards on just eight carries and scored three touchdowns, including a 58-yard QB draw keeper on the Go-Hawks’ second play from scrimmage.
Velky was also 4 of 6 passing for 32 yards including a 3-yard TD pass to Tyler McNally.
Senior Ben Hemer scored two touchdowns, including a 53-yard run; and Kaden Dewey scored on a 52-yard run for the Go-Hawks, who finished with the best overall record (8-1) in Class 3A-District 3, but had to settle for runner-up as Decorah was undefeated in the district.
With an eighth-seeded RPI ranking of .6552, Waverly-Shell Rock qualified for the Class 3A playoffs and will travel to face North Scott in the first round on Friday (Oct. 26).
For Charles City (4-5), the season did end on a positive note when running back Trever Heitz was able to churn out 91 yards on 22 carries, giving him exactly 1,000 for the year — Heitz is the first Comet sophomore to rush for 1,000 yards.
Senior Dylan Koresh rushed for 43 yards on eight carries in his final high school football game. For the season, Koresh had 638 yard while averaging a little under 10 yards a carry.
Though Koresh and fellow seniors like Kelly Ward, who led the Comets in tackles, and Ryan Zuspan, who started on both sides of the line since he was a sophomore and was an all-district first-team offensive lineman as a junior, are gone, the Comets are due to return talented players like Heitz, and quarterback Marcus Cranshaw, who led the team in touchdowns.
“We have some good players coming back,” Bohlen said, “but it takes more than just being a good football player.
“I just hope they will put in the necessary work like our seniors did for this season.”
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK 47, CHARLES CITY 0
Scoring by Quarters
CHARLES CITY 0 0 0 0 — 0
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK 7 26 14 0 — 47
WSR — Luke Velky 58-yard run (Dawson Bathke kick), 9:41 1st
WSR — Velky 13-yard run (Bathke kick), 11:30 2nd
WSR — Tyler McNally 3-yard pass from Velky (Bathke kick), 9:32 2nd
WSR — Velky 39-yard run (Kick failed), 8:29 2nd
WSR — Kaden Dewey 52-yard run (Run failed), 5:14 2nd
WSR — Ben Hemer 47-yard run (Bathke kick), 9:53 3rd
WSR — Hemer 46-yard run (Bathke kick), 6:37 3rd.
Waverly-Shell Rock 8-1 (4-1 Class 3A-District 3)
Charles City 4-5 (1-4 Class 3A-District 3)