Excitment filled the air Friday, Sep. 6 as the Waukee High School football team kicked off their 2019 home opener against Southeast Polk.
It was a highly anticipated match-up as the seventh ranked Warriors welcomed in returning state tournament and current sixth ranked Rams to town. It was a game that had plenty of offense 73 total points and several lead changes. Despite all of that, the Warriors couldn’t capture a win in their home debut, falling 38-35.
With a new track and a new season, the Warriors sure gave it their all and that included a score right out of the gate. After Southeast Polk took the opening kickoff for a touchdown, Waukee junior Aaron Smith answered back with a 96 yard kickoff return of his own. Within a full minute of action, the score was already knotted up at 7-7. In total, Smith would accumulate 141 return yards on just three attempts throughout the game. That kicked off a wild first quarter which witnessed 34 total points scored before the quarter ended. There were some rough waters in the second quarter including a pick-six by Southeast Polk. Waukee brushed it off and captured their first lead of the game and their only lead at the end of a quarter when they were up 20-14 heading into the second quarter of play. Unfortunatley from there, the Warriors just couldn’t find a way to capture another lead trailing at the end of the second, third, and fourth quarters.
Heading into the half, Waukee found themselves down by a 28-20 mark. The deficit remained throughout the third quarter as both teams exchanged touchdowns to put the game at a 35-27 Waukee lead heading into the fourth and final quarter. The Warriors were pouring some comeback magic on the Rams as they captured a touchdown with an extra point to make 35 points scored but a late field goal by Southeast Polk gave Waukee a three point deficit that they couldn’t overcome.
Never-the-less it was still a strong outing from the Warriors all together. Despite a two interception night by Mitch Randall, the senior quarterback did put two passes into the endzone. He ended the night having completed 71 percent of his passes for 234 yards and two scores. The longest score came on a 37 yard pitch and catch with reciever Sam O’Dell who ended up leading the Warriors all-together with 73 yards and two trips to the endzone on six receptions. O’Dell continued to showcase his talents on the receiving core, talents that have continued to impress the likes of head coach Scott Carlson.
“Sam has great speed and is such a clean rout runner that it’s nearly impossible sometimes to cover him,” began Carlson. “He knows where to cut and does it perfectly and that’s not only something that helps us in games but helps us in practices as well. What gets lost in all of this is his blocking abilities as well. He’s really an overall sound football player who we’re lucky to have.”
Other strong performances recieving the ball included senior Jalen Martinez who hauled in five receptions for 49 yards and Edward Saidat Jr. adding 45 yards to the mix on five receptions as well. In the rushing attack, junior Alex Lindquist nearly broke the century mark and captured 98 yards and one score on just 22 rushing attempts. Quarterback Randall also came close to 100 yards rushing with 95 on the ground for one score.
Defensively, the talented Warrior defense earned 33 tackles on the night, spearheaded by the efforts of Cael Thorson. The junior produced six total tackles on the night including two for a loss and one solo sack. Following his efforts were seniors Simon Loftsgard and Connor Arndt who both tallied five tackles. Arndt also earned two tackles for a loss and one solo sack.
The overall loss for the Warriors gives them an 0-2 record to start the season, something Waukee football hasn’t experienced since the 2010-11 campaign. They will be seeking their first win in 2019 as they stay home once again to take on Cedar Rapids Prairie. Waukee upset the then top ten ranked Prairie team on the road a year prior posting 33 points and 480 yards of total offense. They will seek for a similar outcome Friday night with first kick set for 7 p.m.