IOWA CITY — When Grahm Goering ran the opening kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown, Iowa City West could smell the boot. So to speak.
When Goering caught a touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half, the Trojans more or less could wear the boot. For another year.
Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe West in Friday night’s 56-20 smackdown of rival Iowa City High at Trojans Field. Its offense was unstoppable, its defense plenty up to the task of stopping an opponent that some thought might have the advantage in the size and physicality department.
“You saw the experience of a senior class that played a lot as juniors,” said West Coach Garrett Hartwig. “That was evident, because they were focused during the walkthrough this morning. They were ready to go from the opening kickoff, obviously. They didn’t let up, came out in the second half just as sharp.”
West (2-0), ranked ninth in Class 4A, has won the Battle for the Boot four years in a row. Now it, City High and Iowa City Liberty await some sort of resolution with the ongoing battle, pun intended, with the state over whether or not fall athletics will continue.
Everyone could be shut down for the next couple of weeks because the Iowa City Community School District has decidedto conduct classes online only. No in-person classes, no play.
“I don’t think that was a big distraction this week,” said West quarterback Marcus Morgan, who threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. “Guys were locked in most of the week because we’re out here having fun playing football. We get out here and start playing football, we don’t worry about anything else.”
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Goering fielded the kickoff that began this game inside the 1-yard line, as close to the end zone and an automatic touchback as you could possibly get. He broke free up the middle, sprinted to the right hashmark, stiff-armed a would-be City High tackler at the Little Hawk 40 and ran the rest of the way down the sideline for a scintillating opening salvo.
Goering and Morgan were ubiquitous influences here. Goering added a pair of first-half touchdown catches and had another in the second half for a four-TD night.
West blew to a 35-7 halftime lead.
“For sure, that set the tone,” Goering said of his kickoff return. “We all had an insane amount of adrenaline. I know I did. That kind of set the tone.”
Morgan ended up completing 12 of 13 passes, the only incompletion a drop, for 209 yards. Damarion Williams had five catches for 120 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown on West’s first possession in which he took a short pass, got a great block and ran to the house.
Williams also had a pick-6 interception return in the second half. Quarterback Raph Hamilton had a TD run and pass for City High (1-1).
“I didn’t see it coming,” said City High Coach Dan Sabers. “I thought we were further along and stuff. But, boy, they took it to us. Everybody could see that.”
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