SIGOURNEY — Van Buren County needed everything to go perfectly on Friday night to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the high school football season.
It took one play for perfection to go out the window and two plays for fifth-ranked Sigourney-Keota to set the tone for the night against the Warriors.
Brady Duwa caught the first of three touchdown receptions on just the second play of the game. It would be the first of five touchdowns for Duwa in the game and the first of five touchdowns scored by the fifth-ranked Cobras in the first quarter of a 48-13 win over Van Buren County as S-K left little doubt about coming though with a Homecoming win on Friday at Cobra Field.
“You can’t draw it up any better than that,” S-K head football coach Jared Jensen said. “We knew taking a shot was the biggest thing we could do (on the second play of the game). We put the ball in the hands of one of our best athletes. It worked out for us. We threw it up to Brady and let him make a play.”
Duwa’s catch in the back of the end zone was just the first of many plays the talented S-K senior would make on Friday. On defense, Duwa added his first fumble recovery of the season to go along with three interceptions in the first three games of the season, ending Van Buren County’s second drive on just three plays.
S-K overcame a penalty, converting a fourth down before Cobra quarterback Cade Molyneux once again found Duwa for a six-yard touchdown pass while being hit by a pair of Van Buren County players. Duwa would haul in a 34-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, giving S-K more passing touchdowns than rushing scores in the contest.
“That’s something we’re getting more comfortable with as the season goes on,” Duwa said. “We’re starting to gain some confidence whether it’s me, Cade Striegle, Wyatt Sieren or any of us that are comfortable running the routes. Our offensive line deserves a lot of credit. They’re giving our quarterbacks the time to roll out, dot us up perfectly. Both Cade and Colton (Clarahan) are putting the football exactly where it needs to be.”
Duwa’s special versatility helped S-K put up three more touchdowns before the first quarter was over. The Warriors (1-2) avoided a turnover on their third possession, but did not gain a first down bringing out Treyton Bainbridge to punt.
Duwa was waiting for the kick, taking the ball at the S-K 44 and dashing to the right before heading up the sidelines virtually untouched for a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown. Duwa set up his own six-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter with a 60-yard return that nearly turned into the fourth kick return for a score this season for the talented senior captain.
“That’s another credit to our return team. They’re giving me the blocks that open the lanes for me to run through,” Duwa said. “Last week against Louisa-Muscatine, I took one back where I don’t think I was even touched. They’re doing a great job up front and giving me places to go. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Duwa’s 34-yard touchdown catch completed his night with just under two minutes left in the first half, giving S-K a commanding 41-0 lead. Sam Sieren scored on a 29-yard touchdown run set up by a Duwa punt return that gave the Cobras the ball in Warrior territory for the fourth time in five possessions.
“Brady is one of the leaders of our team. I think he and the rest of our starters did a great job of staying involved in the game,” Jensen said. “Even in the second half, those starters were our cheerleaders tonight. Those younger guys on the field fed off that encouragement.”
Ethan Shifflet’s 12-yard touchdown run with five seconds left in the first half gave S-K a 48-0 lead. It was the only score that Duwa didn’t play a part in, having already racked up 226 all-purpose yards including 164 return yards providing the Cobras a hand in all facets of the game including his encouragement to his teammates through all 48 minutes.
“Brady’s a special kid, one that you don’t get a whole lot,” Jensen said of Duwa. “He spends so much time doing everything he possibly can to make himself everything he knows he can be. He’s a kid you can hang your hat on. Having that type of guy is huge for us. He can take control of the game, or we can use him as a decoy and unload with Sam, Cade or Wyatt. He’s a guy you can’t take your eyes off of when he’s on the field.”
Sam Warth racked up 120 rushing yards on 21 carries to lead Van Buren County. Preston Buss and Cayden Summers each scored on touchdown runs in the second half for the Warriors, who could not bounce back after suffering a 41-6 loss to Mediapolis last week at home.
“All these kids know how tough Mediapolis and Sigourney-Keota are,” Van Buren County head football coach Brian Johnson said. “They read the papers. They hear the talk. They knew how tough these two games back-to-back would be for us. I think we gained some momentum in the fourth quarter that can help us bounce back and start turning things back around in our favor next week.”
Van Buren County hosts Louisa-Muscatine next Friday while No. 5 Sigourney-Keota takes a 4-0 record to Pekin for the Backyard Brawl against the Panthers. S-K then faces Mediapolis in a rematch of last year’s do-or-die district title game. The Cobras figure to be in attendance at Archer Field in Mediapolis on Saturday night scouting the Panthers and Bulldogs in their contest, which kicks off at 7 p.m.
“I think we might have a few guys in attendance,” Duwa said. “How many chances like this do you get during the season?”