It is a great day to be a J-Hawk.
The motto shared by Jesup Coach Tim Sauer proved to be true Friday night and certainly rings true for the J-Hawks and their fans throughout the three-day weekend.
Jesup recorded a memorable victory to start the season, beating defending state champion and Class A second-ranked Hudson, 7-5, on the road. The J-Hawks are 1-0 for just the third time since 2007 and reversed a 46-8 loss to the Pirates in Week 1 last season.
“It’s a very nice win,” said Sauer, who is in his second season as Jesup head coach and seventh year at the school overall. “The guys believed in it. They executed our game plan. What you saw on Friday was what Jesup’s about through our guys and coaching staff.”
The J-Hawks snapped a 20-game regular-season win streak, including 13 straight overall, of Hudson, which reached back-to-back state title games. Hard work has paid dividends for a program looking for its first winning season since 2015.
“We’ve been training a long time to get to this point,” Jesup senior receiver and defensive back Cooper Fuelling said. “It really means a lot to all of us.”
The J-Hawk defense was solid and held its ground, playing much stingier against the Pirates this time. Last season, Hudson racked up 355 total yards and six touchdowns without a turnover. Friday, Jesup allowed 212 total yards, including 72 on the ground. Brodie Kresser snagged three interceptions and the J-Hawks recovered a fumble, keeping Hudson out of the end zone.
“Our defense really showed up last night with a couple stops in the red zone,” Sauer said. “It’s a pleasant surprise that was very beneficial for us.”
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One of those turnovers helped set up the game’s lone TD in the second quarter. Kresser halted a Hudson drive with a pick, returning it for the J-Hawks' best field position to that point. Jesup gambled on fourth down at the Hudson 38 and was rewarded with a scoring strike from Jase Pilcher to Kresser, who dove over the goal line.
“Our wide receivers and quarterbacks have a really good chemistry, right now,” Sauer said. “We took a shot and it paid off.”
Revenge from last season wasn’t a factor. Sauer said many of the current starters weren’t starters in Week 1 last season. The focus was to do their best and compete for a win each week.
“We’re always trying to improve and get better,” Fuelling said. “It’s about starting 1-0 and getting a good starting point.”
The J-Hawks have the rest of the weekend off before preparing for Oelwein at home Friday. Sauer said he was proud of the way his players remained levelheaded after the victory. Fuelling said it was amazing and the J-Hawks maintain their high expectations for this season.
“It proves we can hang with any team,” Fuelling said. “It’s a confidence boost.”
MFL MarMac wins opener
MFL MarMac began the season with a 44-28 home victory over South Winneshiek Friday night. The win snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Warriors, who outscored the Bulldogs 410-62 during the stretch that dated back to Oct. 26, 2007.
The Bulldogs were powered by running back Kutter Anderson, who rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Anderson added 17 receiving yards on two catches. He accounted for 20 points, rushing for a two-point conversion.
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Anderson averaged nine yards per carry, including a 41-yard TD run. The Bulldogs’ 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior already matched last year’s TD production and is within 100 yards of his total on the ground as a junior.
MFL MarMac plays at Postville in Week 2.
Regina's rough road trip
If playing at second-ranked and two-time defending Class 3A champion Cedar Rapids Xavier wasn’t hard enough, things were tougher for Iowa City Regina before it even left for Saints Field Friday.
According to Regals Coach Marv Cook, the brakes on the team bus didn’t work. Regina was forced to caravan to its season opener. The team relied on coaches and parents to transport the 44-man roster to its season opener.
“We couldn’t bring our bus up,” Cook said. “We had to load up six family cars and two vans to bring them.”
Fortunately, Regina won’t have travel woes in Week 2. The Regals (0-1) play at home against Anamosa (0-1).
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