GLADBROOK - Instead of turning in their pads, the players on the Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team are turning their focus to the second round after a 17-6 first round playoff win over North Butler at home Wednesday night in Class A postseason play.
The Rebels (6-4) took 1:30 to score 10 points at the end of the first half, then took their time on a key 8-minute drive to score seven points in the second half. After being edged out in the first round last year by Dike-New Hartford, G-R coach John Olson called this a special win for his players.
"They are going to remember this forever," Olson said.
The visiting Bearcats (6-4) got on the board first with 5:20 left in the first quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by tailback Kaleb Junker. The kick was no good for a 6-0 advantage for North Butler.
G-R wouldn't respond until late in the second quarter. Rebels running back Chase Clark started the scoring drive with a 20-yard run and had five other carries on the drive.
After missing on four of his first five pass attempts in the game, quarterback Trevor Trunck was right on target with 1:28 left to play in the first half, hitting freshman receiver Colton Dinsdale on a crossing route, who then dived across the goal line for a 16-yard touchdown. The ball seemed to balance on Dinsdale's fingertips for a split second before he hauled it in.
"He's good," Trunck said of Dinsdale. "He's got good hands."
Trunck wasn't done making plays in the half as he picked off a deep pass on the ensuing North Butler drive and fired two passes for 33 yards to set up a 32-yard field goal by Wyatt Swanson for the 10-6 Rebel advantage at halftime.
Neither team got too close to scoring in the third quarter until North Butler mounted a drive that would see the Bearcats get to the 13-yard-line of the home team with 1:50 to play in the third. But on the next play, the exchange between the quarterback and running back was muffed and Rebel linebacker Jackson Clark dived on the ball for a huge fumble recovery to swing the momentum in favor of G-R.
Then the Rebels mixed the pass and the run on a key 8-minute, 78-yard drive capped by Chase Clark's 3-yard touchdown run. Chase ended a drive started by big brother Jackson's fumble recovery and the extra point kick by Swanson put the Rebels up 17-6 with 5:51 left to play.
"I think that might have been our best drive of the year," Olson said.
The G-R defense clamped down in the second half keeping the big plays to a minimum and Olson credited them for staying physical.
"It was everybody (stepping up) on defense," Olson said.
Clark finished with 119 yards rushing on 29 carries and Trunck was 10-of-20 passing for 130 yards. The quarterback and defensive back said his senior class may have been counted out years ago when they went winless in middle school, but they loved getting this playoff win at home.
"This feels great," Trunck said.
The Rebels advance to face second-ranked Wapsie Valley (10-0) on the road at Fairbank at 7 p.m. Monday night.
Wapsie Valley was a 69-24 winner over Iowa Valley Wednesday and Olson said his next opponent has "some studs."
The Rebels coach was going to enjoy the win and the fact the equipment doesn't have to be turned in by the team this week.
"It's pretty awesome," Olson said. "The environment is fantastic and our fans are great."