116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The numbers crunchers on the coaching staff believed postgame that their team was in the Class 4A playoffs.
Which turned out to officially be true about an hour and a half later. And quite a story these Cedar Rapids Washington Warriors wrote.
Watts McBride rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown, and Michael Blank had a game-clinching interception with 29 seconds left, as Washington outlasted Pella, 23-21, in a terrific prep football regular-season finale at Kingston Stadium.
Washington won its final three games to go 5-4 and create a three-way tie for second place behind Cedar Rapids Xavier in Class 4A District 4, with Pella and Clear Creek Amana. Washington beat Pella, which beat CCA, which beat Washington ...
Which brought the state’s RPI ratings into play as a tiebreaker. Clear Creek Amana ended with the higher of the three, thus gaining second place.
Washington still got into the playoffs as one of four ‘wildcard’ teams. Pella (4-5) was the odd team out all the way around.
“We were left for dead,” said Washington Coach Mo Blue. “Three of the four games in that (bad) stretch, we got the crap handed to us. We got hammered. Then there was that tight one. We challenged them after the CCA game and said all right, we’re not worried about any of that. Let’s just see how much better we can get the next three weeks.”
Washington began the season ranked in 4A, won its first two games, then lost its next four, as Blue mentioned: lopsided defeats to Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Linn-Mar and Xavier and a really tough one-pointer to CCA. Yet somehow everyone regrouped.
Washington beat Newton, shut out Oskaloosa and played well in this one to beat a perennial state power.
“In the middle of the season, we didn’t really have an identity,” McBride said. “We were just looking to get better. It’s kind of a relief to know that the hard work we put forth to get to this point ... it just feels really good.”
“We just wanted to play for each other,” quarterback Reid Ortiz said. “We just wanted to see how good we could get at the end of the year. We’ve gotten tremendously better since that point. It has all made us better friends, better teammates and better people.”
Ortiz’s 6-yard touchdown pass and 2-yard TD scramble gave Washington a 14-0 lead with 3:56 left in the first half. Pella (4-5) countered with Nolan Clayberg’s 57-yard touchdown run just 25 seconds later, but Washington drove right back downfield before the half and got a 26-yard field goal from Zach Novak for a 17-7 halftime lead.
Pella took the second-half kickoff and drove, with quarterback Blake Meyer scoring on a 1-yard sneak. Washington put together a ground-oriented drive late in the third quarter and early in the fourth that was punctuated by a McBride 23-yard TD run.
The extra point failed, making it 23-14. Clayberg again countered with a 43-yard touchdown run to make it anyone’s game with 5:57 left.
Washington ran clock and made Pella burn all three of its timeouts on the ensuing possession, eventually punting from the Dutch 41. It was shanked, giving Pella one last shot with the ball at its 35 with 51 seconds left.
The Dutch reached their 46, only to have Blank step up with his pick at the Wash 39 to end it. Washington had only 10 defensive players on the field during the play.
“This was a good team we played. Pella’s got some dudes,” Blue said. “There’s a reason they’ve made it to two championship games and won two titles in the last five years. They do a nice job, they’re physical, they didn’t flinch, they did what they do. That was a hell of a high school football game. What are you going to say? We’re lucky we were able to come out on top because that could have gone either way.”
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
Pella 0 7 7 7-21
C.R. Washington 0 17 0 6-23
- CRW-Brisahn Fields 6 pass from Reid Ortiz (Zach Novak kick)
- CRW-Ortiz 2 run (Novak kick)
- P-Nolan Clayberg 57 run (Luke Hardman kick)
- CRW-Novak 26 FG
- P-Blake Meyer 1 run (Hardman kick)
- CRW-Watts McBride 23 run (kick failed)
- P-Clayberg 48 run (Hardman kick)
First Downs - Pella 14, Washington 22. Rushes-Yards - Pella 36-244, Washington 52-295. Passing Yards - Pella 21, Washington 88. Completions-Attempts-Interceptions - Pella 4-8-1, Washington 9-13-0. Total Yards - Pella 265, Washington 383. Punts-Average - Pella 3-28.7, Washington 3-31.3. Penalties-Yards - Pella 2-10, Washington 4-35. Fumbles-Lost - Pella 0-0, Washington 0-0.
Rushing - Pella: Nolan Clayberg 12-177, Aidan Pollock 15-61, Kenson Fuller 2-17, Blake Meyer 7-(minus) 11. Washington: Watts McBride 25-137, Reid Ortiz 16-91, Miles Thompson 5-50, Romen Young 4-14, Jaden Harris 1-2, Team 1-(minus) 2.
Passing - Pella: Blake Meyer 4-8-1-21. Washington: Reid Ortiz 8-13-0-88.
Receiving - Pella: Preston Rowe 2-9, Aidan Pollock 1-7, Jack Howard 1-5. Washington: J’Quari Willis 2-54, Michael Blank 3-26, Brisahn Fields 1-6, Watts McBride 2-2.
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