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City High moves on to state quarterfinals behind Derby, defense

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 03, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa City High Little Hawks shut out Dubuque Hempstead in the first half en route to a 24-7 victory at Bates Field on Monday night. The Little Hawks are now 11-0 this season and advance to the 4A state quarterfinals with the win.

The Mustangs finished the year with an 8-3 record, including two losses to City High.

The first touchdown of the night came just under four minutes into the game on a 5-yard touchdown run by Ellis Jordan. Iowa recruit A.J. Derby added the next touchdown on a 41-yard pass to John Chelf in the second quarter.

Derby had 168 yards in the air, thanks in part to Chelf’s 57 receiving on just three catches.

“When you’re 10-0 and people rank you as one of the best teams in the state, and you get up on them early, that can be tough on [opposing] teams,” said City High head coach Dan Sabers.

Despite choosing to kick off in the first half, City High got the ball back on Hempstead’s third play from scrimmage. The Little Hawks’ Jasper Washington intercepted a Matt Ehlers pass at the Hempstead 31-yard line, leading to the Jordan touchdown.

The offense controlled the game for most of the night, and Derby seemed to perform at will, finding eight different receivers.

The City High defense should also be credited — it shut down Ehler and the run-heavy Hempstead offense. Completing only four of his nine passes, throwing two interceptions, and also rushing for minus-14 yards on the night, Ehler could not get anything going with his feet or hands.

Hempstead attempted to use its ground game, employing six different running backs, but it only had one rushing touchdown — a 10-yard run by Jason Lewis on the final drive against the second-string City High defense. One runner, Brock Haas, was effective for a while, with 34 first-half yards on only eight carries, but he was subdued for a mere 6 yards on three carries in the second half.

“We take pride in our defenzse here at City High,” Derby said after the game. “And seven points against a good Hempstead team, we take that as a plus.”

Now City High will have to play again on Friday night at home against Cedar Rapids Washington, which defeated Cedar Rapids Kennedy Monday night to advance to the state quarterfinals. This will be the final home game — win or lose — for the Little Hawks, because the semifinals and finals of the state playoffs will be played in the UNI-Dome next week.

Despite a 65-28 dismantling of Washington earlier in the year, though, the Little Hawk players are still cautious about a next-round upset.

“We know they’re a very fast team, so they’re going to come down here, and they’re going to want it,” said Chelf. “They were in the Dome last year, so they’re going to come down here ready to get back there.”

Sabers echoed his players sentiments about the Warriors.

“When we first played [Washington], I think they mixed it up a little more,” he said. “And now it’s a tailback-oriented offense … We’re expecting an entirely different team from what we saw the first time.”


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