By Steve Woodhouse
Pella — On a scorching August Friday night, the Pella High School Little Dutch lit up their home field and took the opening game of their 2013 campaign with a score of 38-13.
The Dutch kicked off to Marshalltown to open the game. The Bobcats' first drive resembled most of their possessions of the game, a quick three-and-out.
On Pella's first drive, Junior Trevor Argo connected with Bryce Bortscheller for a 75-yard touchdown. Seth Johnson added the extra point to give the Dutch an an early 7-0 lead.
The defense forced the Bobcat "O" back to the sideline. It was on this possession that the Dutch saw its first of many struggles with penalties the team would have throughout the game. The drive was stalled and briefly put the ball back into the Bobcats' hands.
That was until Junior linebacker Quinton Murphy would pick up a pick six that put the Dutch up 14-0 with 3:47 left in the first quarter. The Dutch held onto this score through the end of the first.
A Dutch touchdown was recalled early in the second, due to an illegal procedure penalty. Pella remained undeterred and quickly reclaimed the score with a 12-yard dash by Senior Lukas Steenhoek. The Dutch's lead was 21-0 with 10:45 left in the second and went into halftime with that lead.
Sophomore Will Warner gave the Dutch prime field position to begin the third with a 26-yard kickoff return. Nathan Henry, another Dutch sophomore, helped take Pella down the field with two rushes for over 10 yards. He finished the game with 55 yards over 10 attempts and had the second-most rushing yards for the Dutch.
Argo finished the drive for the Dutch with a one-yard quarterback sneak to put Pella up 28-0 with 10:02 left in the third.
The Bobcat offense struggled again. The team attempted a fake punt, but the Dutch special teams was able to put a stop to it. Pella's offense once again started with good field position, and finished this drive with a 38-yard field goal by Johnson to put them up 31-0 with 6:49 left in the quarter.
Pella's final touchdown of the night came on a 27-yard run by Sophomore Noah Clayberg late in the third to make the score 38-0. Clayberg was the team's top rusher in the game, with 99 yards on eight attempts.
The Dutch allowed two touchdowns by Marshalltown in the fourth to make the final score 38-13.
"I'm excited for our kids," Head Coach Jay McKinstrey said after the game. The team put in a great deal of preparation for its season opener, and, given the weather conditions, that included hydration. He was very positive about the outcome of the game and the victory over the 4A school, but has concerns about some things the team will need to address.
"We had way too many penalties," McKinstrey said. He added that not all of the mistakes were made by his players, but some were also made by himself and his coaching staff.
"It'll get cleaned up," McKinstrey said.
Argo finished the game as the Dutch's top passer, with 133 yards on 15 attempts. Bortscheller finished with 112 receiving yards to lead the team.
On the defensive side, Sophomore Austin Schulte and Warner each had six total tackles. Schulte had five solo tackles and Warner had four. Junior Mason Van Gorp also had four solo tackles and the only sack for the Dutch.
Senior Punter Anthony Bentzinger had three kicks, which traveled for 100 yards. His longest was 38 yards.
Odds and ends
The high temperatures led to the cancellation of the freshman game, originally scheduled to be played before varsity. The Dutch, for most of their pregame workouts, did so without helmets and shoulder pads. Marshalltown worked out in full gear in the high temperatures and sunshine.
Friday night was also senior night for football, cross country, volleyball and cheerleading. Many in the stands also sported "Blue for Blake" shirts in honor of Blake Van Vark, who was killed in a wintertime automobile accident. Van Vark would have been a senior this year. To further honor his memory, the team will have the initials "BVV" on the back of their helmets all season, just like last year.
"His dad, Wade, and two of the children came and spoke to the team on Wednesday night," McKinstrey said. "It was just a real great thing. I know that Blake was a special young man and a friend for many of our kids. It was great for us to be able to honor him that way."
Pella travels to Washington next week. McKinstrey is not taking the team lightly.
"I think Washington's going to be very good," McKinstrey said. Washington will return a lot of players from a playoff team last year.
"We had a great game with them last year," he said. "They're expecting a great season for themselves."
Pella's next home game will be Sept. 13 vs. Grinnell.