Aside from a slight first-quarter scare, it was all Van Meter football Friday, Nov. 1 as the Bulldogs blasted visiting Pella Christian by a 38-12 final.
Over 400 yards of total offense went into earning their eighth straight playoff-opening win and now improve their overall playoff record to 23-16. The Bulldog defense allowed just two scores all game long, the first of which gave the Bulldogs a rare scare. With 7:29 left in the first quarter of play, Pella Christian quarterback Daniel Jungling punched in the game's first score and gave the Bulldogs a rare deficit 6-0. It in fact marked the first time all season that Van Meter trailed at any point all season. It was something rarely felt by the Bulldogs but also a challenge that the team rose to meet, making head coach Eric Trudo quite happy following the win.
“I'm very proud of the way our guys handled adversity here tonight,” began Trudo. “They didn't let an early deficit put them down, instead they got after it and made sure to take the lead right back.”
That's exactly what the Bulldogs did as they marked down 60 yards on seven plays to lead on a 17-yard touchdown toss from senior Anthony Potthoff to Zach Madden for the score. That put the Bulldogs up 7-6. Overall the Bulldogs weren't up to 100 percent health after the season-ending injury to star running back Ian Abrahamson following the Mount Ayr win. Regardless, the next man up mentality came through and sophomore Dalten Van Pelt pulled through. Van Pelt totaled 127 yards on 29 carries with one score which game with 5:33 left in the first quarter. Both the 29 carries and the 127 yards from scrimmage marked season-highs for the sophomore. On a two-yard trip into the endzone, Van Pelt bolstered the Bulldog lead to a 14-6 mark heading into the second quarter. His performance caught the attention of many and the utmost respect of his peers including senior Brett Berg.
“Dalten really stepped up big for us tonight,” began Berg. “Dalten did a lot of hard work which as a lineman is great to see. We miss Ian but feel as though we didn't miss much on the ground here tonight.”
Van Meter went on to score 38 total unanswered points which included a ten-yard touchdown pass from senior Anthony Potthoff to Blade Koons for a 21-6 advantage. Overall four scores for the Bulldogs had a direct influence from Potthoff who totaled 138 yards through the air and 113 on the ground for the night. That included a one-yard touchdown run to cap off an eight-play, 41-yard drive. Following Zach Madden's 23-yard field goal, Van Meter found the end-zone yet again, this time on Potthoff's 12th rushing score of the season. That put the Bulldogs up 38-6 entering the fourth quarter. The visiting Eagles made a comeback attempt with an eight-yard score but that is all they would muster. Van Meter would go on to take the victory, thus advancing to the second round of postseason play.
Van Meter will now host their final home game of the 2019 season when they host sixth-seeded South Central Calhoun on Friday, Nov. 8. It's an interesting feeling being the final home game of the season, and for Brett Berg and company, the final home game of their storied careers.
“It's crazy to think about because there have been some great memories made here,” started Berg. “It's bittersweet but the thing to focus on in South Central Calhoun next week.”
It will be just the second meeting between the Bulldogs and the Titans on the gridiron. Van Meter won the only previous meeting back in 2015 and will be seeking a repeat performance this time out. The quarterfinal match-up will take place in Van Meter beginning at 7 p.m.