Bobcats blank former Big 8 rival

There won’t be a long losing streak to begin this season.

The Marshalltown football team made sure it got the 2014 season off on a better foot than the 2013 campaign did at Leonard Cole Field on Friday.

Austin Kluver threw for two scores, Joe Rebik added two more touchdowns and the Bobcats recorded a 31-0 victory over former Big 8 rival Waterloo East in the season-opening non-district affair.

Marshalltown (1-0) broke open a scoreless game when Kluver hit Luke Severson for a 32-yard touchdown with 38 seconds to go in the first half and the Bobcats rolled from there, putting up 25 more points in the final two periods.

“It’s a lot better than last year,” said senior linebacker Ben Rebik in reference to last year’s 0-7 start. “It’ll give us a whole new mental attitude, but we can’t live this whole next week like we just won 31-0. We have tougher opponents coming up, but it certainly will feel good for the next few days.”

Both offenses were stuck in reverse for most of the first half and part of that was due to poor field conditions. It rained for most of the first two quarters and some in the third and that caused problems for both squads.

Neither team gained more 250 yards in the game, but the Bobcats’ defense held the Trojans to 62 rushing yards on 30 carries and 123 total yards for the game.

Marshalltown also recovered two Trojan fumbles and Luke Severson intercepted quarterback Chase Pryor in the third quarter.

“It came down to execution,” said Ben Rebik, who finished with three total tackles. “We play assignment football, and if we stick to our assignments and execute, we’ll do well most nights.”

The Bobcats gained 155 yards on the ground, led by John Espinoza’s 92 yards on 20 carries. Espinoza gained just 37 yards on 27 runs during the entire 2013 season.

“Tonight was not a good night for offensive football,” said MHS coach Aaron Shipley. “It was wet, muddy and the field conditions were awful. I could barely walk, let alone run. When you have a night like that, you have to be able to grind it out and get production from your special teams and your defense and we got that.”

It was the first meeting between the two former rivals since 1990. The Bobcats ended a seven-game losing streak in the series after a 35-28 win on that day and Waterloo East still leads the all-time series 29-14-1, but Marshalltown dominated both sides of the ball Friday.

Kluver was an efficient 8-for-13 for 82 yards and he also threw a 4-yard touchdown to senior Jordan Smith in the third quarter.

But his big touchdown strike to Severson got the Bobcats on the board and pushed momentum to the home team.

“(Kluver) throws on the run very well,” said Shipley. “Having a mobile quarterback is very valuable and he showed there that he can make a play where the play is not designed to go. That will make him hard to prepare for.

“It was a huge play. We got a score on the board. The kids saw they could do it, they could produce and that they can win.”

Joe Rebik made it 13-0 early in the third quarter when he took a Waterloo East (0-1) punt and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown.

“I just saw a lot of them coming at me really fast so I knew if I slowed it down they would fly right by me,” said Joe Rebik about the punt return. “Then I saw (Jordan) Paone right next to me, so I knew I had help. He was a lead blocker and I just took it in.”

Shipley was especially pleased with the strong special teams play after the Bobcats struggled in that area in 2013.

“We were not too good on special teams last year. Being able to get production out of that unit this year is really important for success and for momentum,” said Shipley.

Joe Rebik also was featured some in the Wildcat formation as the coaching staff looks to get him the ball several different ways. The junior wideout caught one pass for nine yards and gained 35 yards on 10 carries as well.

Waterloo East’s losing streak is now at 11 games. The Trojans finished the 2012 season with a 45-0 loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier and then went 0-9 last year.

The Bobcats will look to go 2-0 when they return to Leonard Cole Field next week to take on former CIML rival Newton. The Cardinals, who went 4-5 in Class 3A last year, beat Knoxville 41-7 in their season opener.

“Every team in the state of Iowa started out with a goal to go 1-0 tonight and we were one of the lucky half that did,” said Shipley. “It was a good way for us to start and it helps our kids buy into the system and buy into the program.”

Notebook

Smith had three receptions to lead the receivers, while Severson’s 32 yards were a team-high. Junior Josh Edel had 4 1/2 tackles to lead the defense, while Kyler Ladehoff had four and Peyton Williams had 3 1/2. Opening games are usually sloppy from a turnover and penalty perspective. That was the case Friday. Aside from the four combined turnovers, the Trojans also committed 10 penalties for 107 yards and Marshalltown had eight penalties for 46 yards.