Each one of Waverly-Shell Rock’s five wins this season arrived in some shade of black and gold, black and white or gold and white.
Rarely has the program veered from its vintage history.
Until Friday, that was.
Draped in gold from head to toe – the first time the program revealed a third jersey in its history – the new-look Go-Hawks stomped Mason City, 64-20, on cool October night where those in attendance wore pink in support Breast Cancer awareness.
The gold rush didn’t hold back the Go-Hawks, who had no problem prospecting for yards on offense, creating pressure that led to turnovers and special teams that continued to be sound.
In one of the most prolific offensive nights in quite some time, W-SR (6-1 overall, 3-0 Class 4A, District 2) racked up a whopping 545 yards, with most of those coming via a menacing rushing attack and put the game out of by halftime.
Quick-footed special teams, specifically the return units, gave W-SR an average field position near midfield all night, which translated into explosive plays. Four different W-SR running backs scored a touchdown, including junior McCrae Hagarty’s two trips to the end zone. Senior quarterback Grant Halverson and sophomore backup Cole Marsh threw for one touchdown apiece, while eight different Go-Hawks caught a pass. Most important, the Go-Hawks scored two defensive touchdowns.
Not too shabby of a debut in new threads for the local 11.
“We’ll see,” Newsom said, with a smile, when asked if the gold uniforms would be worn again this season. “It was a special occasion.”
Special indeed. But first, W-SR had to overcome a slow start offensively and withstand an early push from Mason City (2-5, 1-2).
A holding penalty stalled the Go-Hawks’ opening drive. Then, when they looked to flip the field, Simon Ott’s punt was blocked by Carter Thomas to hand the Mohawks possession at the Go-Hawks’ 25-yard line. The visitors couldn’t find the end zone, but Carson Siemons booted a 42-yard field goal to give the Mohawks a 3-0 lead with 9 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing was we had to make sure we got our pass protections squared up,” W-SR coach Mark Hubbard said of the adjustments his squad made after that initial series. “We had a chance to look at a lot of stuff they were doing and so we just tried to take what’s there after that.”
It started with an explosive kickoff return from Hagarty. The W-SR junior caught Siemons’ kick at his own 6, then scampered 54 yards to the Mason City 7. Hagarty rumbled into the end zone three players later to give W-SR a 7-3 lead.
The Go-Hawks never looked back.
A 40-yard field goal by Ott pushed W-SR’s lead to 10-3.
W-SR’s defense for created its first takeaway of the night on Mason City’s next possession. Newsom, who wreaked havoc from the outside edge all game, blew past Mason City’s left tackle and running back Jaylen Wynter, and knocked the ball free from quarter Kale Hobart. Meanwhile, W-SR defensive end Layne McDonald scooped up the loose ball and bolted 21 yards into the end zone for a 17-3 lead with 11:52 to go in the second quarter.
“I just made a football play,” Newsom said of the strip sack. McDonald finished it.
Another field goal off the foot of Siemons, this one a 24-yarder, cut the deficit to 17-6. Hagarty returned the favor once again. The two-way starter broke off a 47-yard touchdown run to make it 23-6. Halverson’s pass to Hagarty for the 2-point conversion failed.
Still not out of it yet, Mason City marched to the W-SR 25 and threatened to score, but Hobart’s pass was intercepted by Tyler Gayer. Mason City’s second turnover of the night led to yet another W-SR score. This time, Ott ran 34 yards on a reverse to push the margin to 30-6 with 1:57 remaining before halftime.
“When you run to the ball on defense, good things happen,” Hubbard said. “And if you can get … 11 gold jerseys running to the ball on defense, then you’re going to have a chance to make some breaks happen and that’s what happened.”
Austin Dewey sprung a 54-yard touchdown run on the Go-Hawks’ first possession of the second half to make it 37-6.
Then, for the first time Friday night, Halverson flashed his accuracy and arm strength, hitting junior tight end Will Soesbe in stride for a 20-yard touchdown on the far side of the field for a 44-6 cushion and invoke the running clock.
Sam Roose squashed any energy that remained on the visitors’ sideline. The W-SR junior defensive back jumped in front of Hobart’s intended receiver Corey Miner, picked off the pass and ran 33 yards into the end zone to make it 51-6.
“I was in Cover 5, so I was on the deep half and the (receiver) ran a slant,” Roose said. “We had a flat guy there that interrupted with the pass, so it bounced right off his hands and I was in the right spot at the right time and caught it and took it to the house.
“We have thrived off of turnovers, and that’s one of the things we have emphasized a lot. It’s a big part of our team, and it leads to a lot of energy.”
The house, as in Go-Hawk Stadium, erupted once more.
Dewey posted a team-high eight tackles, while Ott chipped in with five. Poyner, Ethan Reyerson, Jake Walker and Sean Mwangi had four tackles each.
W-SR got late scores from Marsh – a 36-yard touchdown pass to Caiden Bailey – and Robert Poyner, who turned a first-and-10 from his own 10 into a 90-yard touchdown run.
It was that kind of night for those in gold.
“Something we’ve been working on but haven’t really been able to display yet is we can do a ton of things,” Newsom said. “We’ve got a lot of great athletes, a lot of great guys who are just good at doing their jobs and that allows us to do whatever we want and be creative.”
Creative the Go-Hawks were.
W-SR 64, MASON CITY 20
Mason City……………... 3 3 8 6 – 20
Waverly-Shell Rock … 10 20 21 13 – 64
MC: Siemons 42 field goal, 9:40.
W-SR: Hagarty 1 run (Ott kick), 8:09.
W-SR: Ott 40 field goal, 0:44.
W-SR: McDonald 21 fumble return (Ott kick), 11:52.
MC: Siemons 25 field goal, 7:36.
W-SR: Hagarty 47 run (pass failed), 6:37.
W-SR: Ott 34 run (Ott kick), 2:18.
W-SR: Dewey 54 run (Ott kick), 9:44.
W-SR: Soesbe 21 pass from Halverson (Ott kick), 6:23.
W-SR: Roose 33 interception return (Ott kick), 5:27.
MC: Washington 22 pass from Hobart (Washington 2 pass from Hobart), 0:34.
MC: Fingalsen 58 interception return (pass failed), 10:28.
W-SR: Bailey 36 pass from Marsh (kick failed), 9:06.
W-SR: Poyner 90 run (Ott kick), 3:04.
Mason City W-SR
First downs 15 17
Total Yards 246 545
Rushes-Yards 20-2 25-346
Passing Yards 244 199
Comp-Att-Int 20-49-2 10-14-1
Punt returns-Yards 1-15 2-13
Kickoff returns-Yards 10-192 5-164
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 0-0 5-44
Time of possession 30:49 17:11
Mason City: Wynter 11-29, Hobart 4-(minus-3), Mosley 4-(minus-9), Miller 1-(minus-15). W-SR: Poyner 4-103, Hagarty 10-93, Dewey 2-64, Newsom 3-44, Ott 3-32, James 1-5, Folkerts 2-5.
Mason City: Hobart 17-43-2 233, Miller 3-6-0 11. W-SR: Halverson 8-11-0 129, Marsh 2-3-1 70.
Mason City: Washington 5-115, Wynter 3-34, Fingalsen 3-23, Miner 2-28, Johnson 2-6, Shamel 1-15, Thomas 1-12, Miles 1-9, Wiley 1-5, Kruger 1-(minus-3). W-SR: Luck 3-46, Bailey 1-36, Poyner 34, Folkerts 1-26, Ott 1-22, Soesbe 1-21, Santoiemma 1-13, Newsom 1-1.
Player (solo tackles-assisted tackles-total): Peters 3-5-8, Banks 3-3-6, Fingalsen 4-1-5, Eide 2-3-5, Willis 1-3-4, Mosley 2-1-3, Holland-Dunn 2-0-2, Siemons 1-1-2, R. Johnson 1-0-1, M. Johnson 1-0-1, Shamel 1-0-1, Thomas 1-0-1, Unknown (No. 11) 1-0-1, Wiley 1-0-1, Walker 0-1-1, Berdimg 0-0-0, Lorence 0-0-0. Tackles for loss: None. Forced fumbles: None. Fumble recoveries: Lorence 1. Interceptions: Fingalsen 1-58. Pass breakups: Berdimg 1. Blocked punts: Carter 1.
Player (solo tackles-assisted tackles-total): Dewey 7-1-9, Ott 3-2-5, Poyner 3-1-4, Reyerson 3-1-4, Walker 2-2-4, Mwangi 1-3-4, Hagarty 3-0-3, Santoiemma 3-0-3, McDonald 2-1-3, Newsom 2-1-3, Roose 2-1-3, Gayer 2-0-2, Wilson 2-0-2, Souhrada 1-1-2, Spears 1-1-2, Soesbe 0-2-2, Kelley 1-0-1, Ramker 0-1-1, Williams 0-1-1. Tackles for loss: Ott 1½-1½, Reyerson 1-3, Walker 1½-3½, Hagarty 1-4, Armstrong ½-½, McDonald 1½-1½, Newsom 1-5, Souhrada 1-15, Kelley 1-7. Forced fumbles: Newsom 1. Fumble recoveries: McDonald 1-21. Interceptions: Roose 1-33, Gayer 1-10. Pass breakups: Dewey 1, Walker 2, Santoiemma 1, McDonald 1, Newsom 2, Roose 2.