SERGEANT BLUFF -- It couldn’t have been scripted any better as far as the Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School football team is concerned here Friday night.
The Warriors excelled on both sides of the football en route to a 27-0 victory over Spencer in an Iowa Class 3A playoff quarterfinal, earning a trip to the UNI-Dome for a semifinal contest Thursday.
SB-L, now 10-1, held a Spencer offense that had been clicking of late in check while racking up 439 yards of total offense. The Warriors have now won 10 consecutive games since a season-opening loss to Council Bluffs Lewis Central.
“Our defensive line and linebackers played outstanding football limiting that offense to no points,” SB-L Coach Justin Smith said. “That’s pretty tough to do. You have to take them away from what they like to do and force them to do something they’re uncomfortable with. We were fortunate enough to be able to do that tonight.”
Spencer (8-3) normally generates most of its offense on the ground, but when it was unable to negotiate much of a running game in the first half, it resorted to passing, but to no avail.
Britton Delperdang rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown while Daniel Wright completed 14 of 22 passes for 123 yards and also ran for a score. Sophomore David Clausen connected on two field goals and Deric Fitzgerald got the ball rolling for the Warriors.
Fitzgerald, one of a number of speedsters on the SB-L roster, raced 52 yards on his team’s fourth offensive play. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ defense forced Spencer to punt on its first four tries and that’s when the Tigers tried their hand at passing.
Gage Garnatz threw 12 times, but completed only four and although workhorse Isaiah Spencer finished with 71 yards on 18 carries, much of that was in the second half when the outcome had already been decided.
“They’re very athletic, their line is all over the place and I knew that from the first game,” Spencer Coach Jim Tighe said. “They run so well along the line of scrimmage and then of course they have so many good skill kids. They’re a better team and beat us twice and are the district champions and are going to represent our district well in the semifinals.”
This was Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s second win of the season over Spencer. The first game was much closer, a 24-20 SB-L win early last month in Spencer.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton sidelined Sioux City Bishop Heelan, another district rival, in the opening round.
The four teams remaining -- SB-L, Lewis Central, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Western Dubuque -- will be re-seeded before semifinal pairings are announced. The Warriors will face Western Dubuque in one of the semifinals.
“This was our goal all year long with these young men and they’ve been getting better every week,” Smith said. “You have to give a lot of credit to every young man on this team that isn’t a starter for showing up every day and making everybody better.
“It’s difficult to beat a team twice, especially two weeks in a row. We made some adjustments and the kids executed well.”
Fitzgerald’s dash on a jet sweep was the only scoring of the first quarter and Clausen made it 10-0 on a 21-yard field goal four plays into the second.
Spencer had its best chance to score midway through the second quarter, taking over in SB-L territory after a short punt. The Tigers moved to the 15-yard line before a costly penalty for a chop block and wound up having a pass intercepted by Zach Shultz in the end zone.
Delperdang, who had 1,198 rushing yards to his credit heading into the game, carried six times on the first drive of the second half. He bolted 36 yards up the middle untouched at the 8:19 mark of the third quarter, giving the Warriors a 17-0 lead.
“I definitely had some motivation (in the second half),” Delperdang said. “I don’t think I played up to my capabilities in the first half. I felt like I really gave it my all in the second half. I feel like the defense gives me a drive to push myself even harder because they’re busting their butts and putting up shutouts the last two weeks. It’s a great feeling to know that your defense is that good and you just need to put up points.
“I’m just proud of the guys for sure, I think we’ve earned it for how hard we worked in the offseason and how we prepared for this week and last, putting up two shutouts. It’s a dream we’ve all had since playing in junior football, especially with this group of seniors.”
The Warriors racked up 316 yards on the ground as Fitzgerald added 72 yards on six carries and Shultz 65 on four totes.
Shultz had a 45-yard sprint to set up Wright’s 1-yard touchdown plunge with 3:13 left in the third quarter. Clausen then split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.