CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Washington got its revenge thanks to a vengeful defense. A good one, too.
The Class 4A third-ranked Warriors gave up only 99 yards and got a defensive touchdown to knock off Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 21-0, Friday night before 6,500 fans at Kingston Stadium. Kennedy handed Washington its only two losses last season, including in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
“All week we’ve just been studying the film, watching their plays from their Muscatine game last week and how they played us in the playoffs last year,” said Washington linebacker Ben Nassif. “We were just studying every play they did. We came out, knew what they were going to do and stopped them.”
Sophomore defensive back Brayden Wright intercepted a Nick Duehr pass over the middle and sprinted 38 yards for a TD in the second quarter to give Washington (2-0) a two-score margin. That was more than enough cushion on this night.
Washington defensive coordinator Mo Blue implored Wright to explain to a reporter how he actually “screwed up” on the telltale play, not covering the guy he was supposed to cover. Wright just smiled.
“I saw that the quarterback was rolling out and the tight end was coming over. I just jumped the route, saw his eyes look at the tight end,” Wright said. “He cocked his arm back and threw the ball, I jumped it, saw nothing but green and just took off.”
Washington’s first touchdown came late in the first quarter when quarterback Bryan Kunde connected with receiver Drew Dostal on a 9-yard slant pattern. Running back Connor Malcolm’s 4-yard scoring run with under a minute left provided the final margin.
He finished with 109 tough yards on 21 carries.
“Our defense really improved from Week 1 to Week 2,” said Washington Coach Paul James, whose club beat Cedar Rapids Prairie last week, 28-14. “They really came to play, read their keys real well. They outhit Kennedy’s offense and made some plays.”
Kennedy quarterbacks Duehr and B.J. White combined for only 2-of-19 passing for 10 yards and two interceptions. Add that to an inability by the Cougars (0-2) to sustain any rushing attack against Washington’s quick-to-the-ball defense, and that meant trouble.
It did not help the Kennedy that running back Payton McCarty and receiver-defensive back Chase Baker left the game early with injuries. Starting linebacker Garrett Kubovec also sat out with an injury.
“I think we played terrible offensively,” said Kennedy Coach Brian White. “We couldn’t sustain anything, weren’t doing our assignments well. Had guys pulling when they shouldn’t have pulled. We were just like dear in the headlights offensively. We didn’t make plays. Defensively, I was absolutely happy. They kept us in the game, played lights out, like we played defense last year.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Teron Duehr came over the middle and caught a pass from his brother. Washington linebacker Ian Thomas met him squarely after he caught the ball and planted him squarely into the turf, lifting him off his cleats in the process.
That play signified this one perfectly.
“Throughout the game, I thought we stepped up defensively,” Thomas said. “We improved a lot from Week 1 to Week 2. We were hitting hard. Our d-line was going hard, our corners were covering, Drew Dostal was making plays at safety, flowing around.”
Washington plays next week at Bettendorf, Kennedy at Dubuque Hempstead.
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