Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Prairie ruins Iowa City Liberty's season resumption, posts impressive 48-14 win

James McKinney of Iowa City Liberty is tackled by Clayton Scott and Jackson Decker of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the fi
James McKinney of Iowa City Liberty is tackled by Clayton Scott and Jackson Decker of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the first half of play at North Liberty on Friday, October 2, 2020. (Justin Torner/Freelance for the Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Cedar Rapids Prairie’s football team keeps playing opponents coming off season pauses. And keeps making their resumptions a less than pleasant experience.

The Hawks smashed Iowa City Liberty, 48-14, Friday night in Liberty’s return to the field.

Liberty (1-2) hadn’t played a game since Sept. 3, a win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson, unable to do anything activities wise whatsoever because of the Iowa City Community School District’s decision to begin the school year with online learning only.

Prairie beat Linn-Mar last week, 42-0, in Linn-Mar’s first game in two weeks. The Lions had to sit out because of a COVID-19 situation on their team.

It’s tough enough to face Prairie and its unique single-wing offense with regular preparation. When you’ve had to sit out for multiple weeks ... forget about it.

“We’re not going to take it easy on anyone,” said Prairie offensive lineman Eli Ripley. “We’re ready, providing energy right away.”

Running back Nick Pearson had 176 yards rushing and four touchdowns for Prairie (3-2), which has won three in a row since dropping two close games to begin its season. That included a one-point overtime loss.

The Hawks piled up 514 yards here, just shy of 400 on the ground. This club is going to be a tough out once the postseason rolls around in two weeks.

No doubt.

“I tell you what is really cool, and it has nothing to do with the Xs and Os,” said Prairie Coach Mark Bliss. “The one thing about this team is I have never seen kids cheer each other on like these kids do. They are excited about anybody that’s in the game, and we’ve been fortunate (the last couple of weeks) where we’ve been able to play everybody. No matter who is in the game, our kids are just ecstatic for them. They show unselfish love and compassion for each other. That is a really, really cool thing to see.”

Prairie rolled to a 27-7 halftime lead, with Pearson providing three touchdown runs and Adam Longwell one. Liberty’s points came on a Michael Miller 35-yard touchdown run off a jet sweep, the Lightning taking advantage of a dropped punt snap for great field position.

That made it a 7-7 game late in the first quarter. It was all Prairie after that.

What makes the Hawks even more dangerous this season is a legit passing attack. Quarterback Dionte Fliss, in particular, can fling it around, proof being his 32-yard TD pass to Brandon Vlcko in the third quarter.

Vlcko also plays QB.

“I think we have a big chance to make a playoff run here,” said Ripley. “Last year, we were a lot more run heavy. But this year, we can both run and pass. It gives us another option to go off of.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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