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Through the early portion of the prep football schedule, the Williamsburg Raiders have had 18 players start a game at a new position.
The growing pains were evident early in a narrow three-point home loss to Class 3A Fairfield in the opener, but the traditional 2A power appears to have found some footing on the backs of two program mainstays.
“We’ve been able to run the ball well and our defense has continued to improve each week,” Williamsburg Coach Curt Ritchie said.
Williamsburg (3-1) has won three games in a row and outscored its opponents during the streak by a total margin of 111-27, which could catapult the Raiders back into The Gazette’s prep football rankings on Monday.
“It really is a week-to-week process for sure,” Ritchie said. “With this group and new faces, we definitely have to. I think the real key is to continue to improve each week in a lot of areas that we’re not real consistent with right now.”
Williamsburg blasted Camanche, 55-7, on Friday night in the inaugural ‘Lumber Bowl’ played at Ashford University Field in Clinton, which is normally reserved for the Clinton LumberKings minor league baseball team.
“I’ve played on some outfields and ballfields before when I was at English Valleys … but never one quite like that atmosphere,” Ritchie said. “I don’t know if we truly knew what to expect when we pulled in there. It was really a neat thing.”
Sophomore tailback Gage Hazen-Fabor subbed for a hampered Jason Wardenburg and ran 22 times for 266 yards and three scores.
The Williamsburg defense has been bolstered by the return of all-state linebacker Derek Greiner, who missed the first two games of the season due to injury. Greiner collected 8.5 tackles, two for loss and a pair of sacks against Camanche.
Williamsburg travels to Mediapolis (1-3) this Friday.
ISU OFFER ONE NAGEL ‘COULDN’T PASS UP’
West Delaware is undefeated, surging toward the top of the Class 3A rankings and is the state leader in total offense with 2,137 total yards.
This week, one of its offensive leaders heard the news he had been waiting to hear.
Senior tight end John Nagel received a scholarship offer from Iowa State on Monday, the culmination of a two-year recruitment with the Cyclones.
Hours before the Hawks steamrolled Center Point-Urbana on Friday, 48-15, Nagel verbally committed to first-year Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell.
“I’ve always liked it down there, loved it down there,” Nagel said. “They have a new coaching staff that came in and I just love the atmosphere they’ve brought.”
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Nagel averages 19.3 yards per reception, has two touchdowns and is a ferocious blocker at the point of the attack.
Nagel had pledged over the summer to play for Northern Iowa over offers from Army, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State and Northern Illinois. Ultimately, the chance to play in the Big 12 swayed his decision.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to go to a Power-5 school and play in a Power-5 conference,” Nagel said. “It’s just something I couldn’t pass up.”
AND THEN THERE WERE 10
After five Gazette-area undefeated teams fell on Friday, only 11 remain.
In 2A, Union and top-ranked North Fayette Valley are without a blemish. Lisbon and Belle Plaine are the area unbeatens in Class A.
The 8-player area field contains three undefeated squads – top-ranked Don Bosco, Lone Tree and Turkey Valley.
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