Prep Football

Noah Aanestad interception clinches victory for Iowa City West over Pleasant Valley

Class 4A No. 7 Trojans now 4-1 overall, 1-0 in District 4

IOWA CITY — Noah Aanestad didn’t consider the play anything special. From his view, the ball was just thrown right to him.

No matter the degree of difficulty, the Iowa City West senior free safety secured victory for his team with a game-saving interception.

“We made some mistakes when they were driving down, but we knew we had to stay calm, stay composed and do what we needed to do,” Aanestad said after the Class 4A seventh-ranked Trojans held off Pleasant Valley, 20-14, in a District 4 opener Friday night at Trojan Field. “That’s what I did. I stayed in my zone and made a play. That’s a team win. It feels awesome.”

Pleasant Valley (1-4, 0-1 District 4) began its last-gasp possession at its own 20-yard-line with 1:52 left in the game. The Spartans needed 11 plays to reach the West 24. With just a couple of seconds left on the clock, Pleasant Valley quarterback Max Slavens hurled the ball toward the end zone where Aanestad lurked.

Ballgame.

“I’m always proud of them,” West Coach Garrett Hartwig said. “The defense has been playing great all year.”

West led 7-0 early in the second quarter until it fumbled away a hook-and-lateral attempt, which allowed Pleasant Valley to convert a short drive and tie the game at 7-7 with 42 seconds left in the first half.

When West (4-1, 1-0) got the ball back at its own 20, Hartwig refused to take a knee and instead directed his offense to try for a halftime lead.

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West sophomore quarterback Marcus Morgan drove the Trojans 56 yards in 41 seconds, which allowed senior kicker Josh Jasek to drill a 41-yard field goal on the final play of the half that gave West a 10-7 lead.

“My coaching philosophy and this coaching staff and these players know that we play to win,” Hartwig said. “We never sit back and wait. We trust our players to make plays.”

A 3-yard TD run by senior Landon Green extended the West lead to 17-7 midway through the third quarter. After Pleasant Valley cut the deficit to three points with a 61-yard TD burst by sophomore tailback Caden Kipper at the end of the third quarter, Jasek converted a second field goal with 5:39 left in the game for a 20-14 West advantage.

West attempted to run out the clock on offense, but was unable to convert a 4th and 1 at the Pleasant Valley 20-yard line. With the focus shifted to the West defense, it was up to Aanestad and company to save the game.

The Trojans bent, but never broke.

“Whether it’s defense or offense, when the game is on the line I know our team is going to step up,” Aanestad said. “That’s just the group we have. We’ve got playmakers and big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.”

Morgan finished the game with 233 passing yards, but left late in the fourth quarter after sustaining a hard hit. West receiver Jalen Gaudet caught four passes for 112 yards, while fellow senior receiver Justin Thomas added five receptions for 106.

Kipper ran for 106 yards for Pleasant Valley, while Slavens threw for 135, but was also intercepted by West senior Nick Biancuzzo.

The Spartans will host Muscatine next Friday, while West visits Linn-Mar.

AT TROJAN FIELD

Class 4A No. 7 Iowa City West 20, Pleasant Valley 14

Pleasant Valley 0 7 7 0—14

I.C. West 0 10 7 3—20

ICW — Owen McAreavy 1 run (Josh Jasek kick)

PV — Max Slavens 11 run (Nathan Hamilton kick)

ICW — FG Josh Jasek 41

ICW — Landon Green 3 run (Josh Jasek kick)

PV — Caden Kipper 61 run (Nathan Hamilton kick)

PV — Max Slavens 11 run (Nathan Hamilton kick)

ICW — FG Josh Jasek 28

RUSHING — Pleasant Valley: Caden Kipper 18-106, Max Slavens 18-35, Cade Collier 1-2, Brennan Sarver 3-3; I.C. West: Marcus Morgan 9-9, Cole Mabry 5-19, Joey Kuehn 1-(-2), Landon Green 8-31, Owen McAreavy 2-4, Jason Strunk 1-2, Peter Breitbach 9-58, Noah Aanestad 2-8.

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PASSING — Pleasant Valley: Max Slavens 15-25-2-135; I.C. West: Marcus Morgan 11-18-0-233, Joey Kuehn 0-2-0-0.

RECEIVING — Pleasant Valley: Peyton Lindmark 2-14, Ben Royer 2-42, Brennan Sarver 6-56, Cade Collier 2-10, Kellen Hornbuckle 2-8, George Venzke 1-6; I.C. West: Jalen Gaudet 4-112, Justin Thomas 5-106, Noah Aanestad 1-7, Owen McAreavy 1-6.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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