MOUNT VERNON — On the bus ride over to Ash Park at Cornell College, Dan Burke sat back and chuckled.
The Center Point-Urbana football coach marveled at the jovial banter among his players, just 30 minutes before a rugged test against Class 2A No. 7 Mount Vernon.
“Just to hear those kids talk,” Burke said with a laugh. “They were loose, but fun. It was like a movie scene. I was just soaking it all in as the head coach. I was like, ‘You guys are nuts.’ But they had a blast. There is just a good aura about them right now. It’s hard to explain.”
The positive juice carried over to the field of play, where the Stormin’ Pointers (2-0) built a three-touchdown lead and held on for a 21-16 victory. Junior tailback Alex Wade sprinted for a 59-yard touchdown in the first quarter, while junior quarterback Caleb Andrews ran a bootleg play for a short score in the second. The CPU defense pushed the lead to 21-0 when Wade intercepted a pass and returned it 83 yards for a TD.
“He’s just a good athlete,” Burke said.
Aside from a safety in a 20-2 season-opening win against DeWitt Central, the CPU defense had not allowed a point through the first seven quarters of the season. Mount Vernon broke through with 16 points in the fourth quarter and appeared poised to claim victory during a late drive until CPU senior Max Chesmore intercepted a pass in his own end zone, his second interception of the game.
“We’re all just working together,” senior all-state defensive lineman Nick Takes said. “Everybody is flowing to the ball.”
In addition to Chesmore, Takes and Wade, 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end/linebacker Maverick Gatrost and senior linebacker Brandon Moore — who led the team in tackles last season — also bring back starting experience for the CPU defense.
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Last season, CPU won its first three games but limped to a 4-5 finish. Over the next four weeks, CPU will face Benton Community, Independence, Marion and Western Dubuque — teams with a combined 7-1 record — which should reveal just how much progress the Stormin’ Pointers have made.
“Stay healthy and just got to keep adapting,” Burke said. “Our offense hasn’t even reached its potential yet. We’re still kind of figuring out who we are offensively, but we’re doing a lot of good things and I think it’s going to blossom. We’ve just got to keep executing.”
Starting the season with two wins may sound insignificant, but many schools are showing signs of a rebound year. Area teams BGM, CPU, Central City, Clear Creek Amana, Independence, North Tama and Tipton are all 2-0 after finishing last season with a losing record.
Two other area teams ended double-digit losing streaks — Oelwein (23 games) and West Central (22) — with wins on Friday.
Historic shootout in Council Bluffs
Many who saw the score had to wonder if it was a basketball scrimmage.
Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson defeated Sioux City North on Friday night, 99-81, in the highest-scoring high school football game in Iowa state history, regardless of class. Jefferson tailback Cameron Baker ran for 368 yards and eight touchdowns, while Sioux City North quarterback Matt Hagen tossed nine TD passes.
With 81 points — albeit in a losing effort — Sioux City North scored more points in one game than it did through all nine games of the 2017 season (75).
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