Josh Wallington, a Mid-Prairie senior lineman, heard the shouts from his quarterback right after scoring his second touchdown of the season.
“All day!” screamed Golden Hawks quarterback Vinnie Bowlin. “All day, baby!”
Wallington, who was shuffled into Mid-Prairie’s power I formation for his short-yardage touchdown early in the fourth quarter, provided an exclamation point in the Golden Hawks’ 35-12 homecoming victory over West Burlington/Notre Dame this past Friday.
The win secured a second-place finish in district play and earned a home game for the Golden Hawks in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs this Friday.
“We needed this,” Mid-Prairie head coach Pete Cavanagh said. “We kind of said this was a must win. It’s kind of playoff number one, I guess, because we want a higher seed and maybe be able to play at home.”
A day later, the Golden Hawks not only got a playoff-opening home game, but they’ll play a winless team – Central Lee – they beat 49-0 earlier this season in a driving rainstorm.
Mid-Prairie senior running back Kayden Reinier rushed for a school-record 316 yards and five touchdowns against Central Lee on Sept. 11, and he powered up behind his big offensive line on Friday against West Burlington/Notre Dame. Reinier ran for 269 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries as the Golden Hawks offensive line grew more dominant as the game went on.
“I thought we wore them down up front,” Cavanagh said. “I knew that was going to be a challenge. They’ve got some big guys up front. I was pretty proud of our offensive line and our defensive line.”
The game figured to be a battle between Mid-Prairie’s Reinier and his offensive line, and West Burlington/Notre Dame sophomore running back Travain Donaldson, who was coming off a 235-yard, 4-touchdown game against Central Lee.
Donaldson scored in the opening quarter, but Reinier had scoring runs in the second and third quarters as the Golden Hawks opened up a 21-12 lead.
“We had our way up front, I thought. And Kayden ran hard,” Cavanagh said. “It’s really kind of what we want to do on a day-to-day basis.”
Bowlin scored the Golden Hawks’ first touchdown with 6:34 remaining in the opening quarter, but he passed just seven times and rushed just three times as the Golden Hawks clearly went to its power running game to stress its physicality. How else to explain a lineman blasting through the line to score a touchdown? On the defensive side, it became the same game.
“I’m really proud of our guys, how we played, just the way we played,” Cavanagh said. “We were tough and physical. We’re better when we play that way.”
After Donaldson’s scoring run in the first quarter, the only other West Burlington/Notre Dame touchdown came on a surprise fourth down pass over the middle to 6-foot-3 Brockton Whitmore.
“Offensively, they present some challenges. We knew they were going to get some yards. We wanted to contain big plays. I thought we did that for the most part,” Cavanagh said. “The pass down the middle, that was just a great play call and a nice catch.”
Rushing: Kayden Reinier, 35 carries, 269 yards, 2 TDs; Cael Garvey, 3-15, 1 TD.
Passing: Vinnie Bowlin, 3-of-7, 53 yards.
Receiving: Clarke Latchem, 2 catches, 31 yards; Justice Jones, 1-22.
Defense: Justice Jones, 9.5 tackles; Bowlin, 8 tackles; Cain Brown, 6 tackles.
Next game: Friday, vs. Central Lee, 7 p.m.