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CEDAR RAPIDS — The move to Iowa’s biggest class in football wasn’t that big of a deal. It was overrated talk.
So says Justin Penner, and he ought to know.
The coach and his Western Dubuque Bobcats are in a tie for first place in their district with two weeks remaining in the regular season. That’s their district in Class 4A.
Because of their enrollments, WD and Newton were forced to make the jump from 3A this season in order to give 4A 48 teams: 24 on each side of the state. Many thought that meant Western Dubuque would struggle.
A 5-2 overall record and 2-1 district mark are not struggling.
“This is my second stint in 4A football,” pointed out Penner, who came to Epworth from Mason City. “Keep in mind, we play 4A in basketball, we’re 3A in wrestling, 4A in track and field, 4A in baseball. A lot of people made too much out of that. We played (Cedar Rapids) Xavier, West Delaware, Solon, and those teams would compete well in 4A.”
Western Dubuque went on the road Friday night and toppled Dubuque Senior, 42-28. Quarterback Dylan Gotto completed 19 of 23 passes for 269 yards, throwing for a touchdown and running for two.
Back Kam Kramer had 106 yards rushing and three TDs. He’s got 926 yards this season, going over 100 yards in each of his team’s games.
He also has yet to fumble in 200-plus carries.
“Just incredibly consistent,” Penner said.
The coach pointed out how even though Kramer has been his team’s bellcow rushing, 10 different guys have caught passes. Defensively, the Bobcats have been just good enough.
Western Dubuque beat 3A Dubuque Wahlert and 2A Dyersville Beckman to open the season, then lost to unbeaten Waterloo West, 38-14, in its first 4A-versus-4A game. A 17-15 win at Cedar Falls in Week 4 was huge, as was a 22-18 district-opening victory against Pleasant Valley.
North Scott beat the Bobcats last week on a last-second field goal, 20-17, but WD rebounded Friday night.
“Honestly, we’ve had two goals that we’ve spoken at length about with the kids,” Penner said. “One, we wanted to make the playoffs. But, two, we also wanted to be Dubuque County champions.”
Western Dubuque has defeated all four Dubuque County teams it has played so far. The finale is in two weeks at Dubuque Hempstead.
First up is a Week 8 game against Davenport West (0-7). WD, Senior, North Scott and Hempstead sit atop District 6 with 2-1 records.
• Maliki Wilson broke Cedar Rapids Xavier’s career rushing mark in his team’s 42-0 win Friday night at Waverly-Shell Rock. The senior had 172 yards rushing and a TD as Xavier improved to 7-0. He has 1,275 yards rushing this season and 2,548 for his two-year varsity career.
• All-state defensive lineman O’Rien Vance did not play in Cedar Rapids Washington’s 30-7 win at Mason City, sitting out with an ankle injury incurred the previous week in a loss to Cedar Falls. An Iowa State recruit, Vance leads Washington in tackles and has 13 tackles for loss, seven sacks. The Warriors play winless Waterloo East next week.
• Waterloo Columbus was forced to forfeit its game Friday night against Class 2A top-ranked North Fayette Valley because it did not have enough healthy players. The school said it was down to 12 juniors and seniors able to play. Griswold also forfeited its game Friday night against Earlham for the same reason. Danville pulled the plug on its season after three games because of lack of numbers. Mormon Trail has forfeited its last two games.
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