INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It was homecoming Friday night at John Wall Field, a festive night that included pregame fireworks.
It also signaled an arrival.
Cedar Rapids Prairie won its fourth straight game, and it was the most important yet — and the most impressive.
The Hawks’ grind-it-out scheme outdid Iowa City West’s explosive attack, and tripped the ninth-ranked Trojans, 39-20, in a Class 4A District 8 football opener.
Workhorses Joe Meyer and Zachary Ganske both went over 100 yards, and the Hawks improved to 4-1 overall, 1-0 in the district.
Prairie controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock, and looked every bit like a top-10 team (which it probably will be next week) and a district contender.
Meyer scored three touchdowns. His first, a 1-yard plunge, put the Hawks in front, 13-7, and they led the rest of the way.
West (3-2, 0-1) lost its second straight game despite 222 rushing yards by Devontae Lane, who normally works as a wideout.
The first half was a battle between West’s explosiveness and Prairie’s efficiency, and the Hawks’ between-the-hashmarks attack prevailed by a 26-14 count.
That’s not to say the Hawks weren’t capable of the big play. Preston LaGrange answered West’s first touchdown drive by getting loose for a 95-yard kickoff return to knot the game at 7-7.
Then, when the Hawks appeared to be content to run out the clock at the end of the half with a 19-14 advantage, Dakota Simonson spotted LaGrange for a vertical pass, LaGrange broke a tackle and sprinted to the end zone to finish off a 59-yard TD.
Prairie’s other two first-half scores ended grind-it-out drives.
At 7-7, the Hawks drove 81 yards in 14 plays right into the teeth of West’s defense, with Meyer capping the 6-minute march.
Prairie followed with an eight-play, 65-yard drive, culminated by a 5-yard TD run by Zachary Ganske.
Lane carried the Trojans in the first half, carrying the ball 10 times for 187 yards with TD runs of 10 and 82 yards.
Evan Flitz hooked up with Dillon Doyle for a 22-yard score to open the second half to cut the margin to 26-20, but the Trojans didn’t score again.
Meyer did, though, on rushes of 1 yard and 7 yards, and that was the ball game.
Prairie is at Ottumwa next week; West hosts Burlington.
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