Rebels outlast Warriors

G-R over Meskwaki in a 50-36 battle at home

Keagan Giesking (center) breaks a tackle during Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s 50-36 season opening victory over the Meskwaki Warriors. Giesking led all rushers with a game high 296 yards rushing and three touchdowns to go along with two passing touchdowns. Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

The 2020 football season began for the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels with a Tama County showdown with the Meskwaki Warriors.

The Rebels prevailed with a final score of 50-36 but Friday’s contest proved one of the closest games the Rebels have had during their tenure in the 8 Player class. Up until Friday’s game, Gladbrook-Reinbeck ended 19 of their 20 games either winning or losing with a point margin so wide a running clock was required.

Keagan Giesking led the way for the Rebels with 296 yards rushing, three rushing touchdowns, and two passing touchdowns. The passing touchdowns came in the second half and were both caught by tight end Cody Gebel.

“Playing in a close game like last night, it makes you realize how important it is to be efficient and effective,” Rebels Head Coach John Olson said.

Although Giesking lit up the box score, Coach Olson also credited the work of the offensive line and backfield in making the room needed for plays to happen.

Ethan Gienger (left) and Caleb Egesdal (right) go airborne to interrupt a pass in the second half of Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s 50-36 win over the Meskwaki Warriors. Darvin Graham/Sun Courier

“Keagan Giesking had a big night,” Olson said. “Statistically he was awesome but he knows this, that he’s never to be as good as he’s going to be without those offensive linemen in front of him. We’ll include our tight ends and our running back in that too.”

“Drake Blakesley is somebody who’s not going to carry the ball a lot or score a lot of touchdowns this year. But he blocks every single play for Keagan. And he does a tremendous job. Cody Gebel, our tight end, is kind of our main blocker on most plays. Our offensive line is young with Henry Mussig at the right guard position and Trey Eggers as a junior at the left guard position, but they’re led by the center, senior Auston Wittgreve who doesn’t get enough credit and does a tremendous job. “

The Rebels started the first quarter with two scoring drives that ended in short yardage touchdowns by Giesking and successful two point conversion runs by Tom Smith.

The Warriors and their standout quarterback Taurice Grant responded with a touchdown pass to Larnell Velaquez toward the end of the first quarter and a 71 yard breakout score in the second.

A touchdown run by Tom Smith and another rushing touchdown by Grant put the half-time score at 22-20 in favor of the Rebels.

“Our biggest adjustment at halftime was on defense,” Olson said. “Our goal was to slow down their quarterback. We made an adjustment with our defensive front and with our linebacker. Instead of putting him four yards out, we put him at two yards. So that way when the quarterback was moving forward he was a closer to him. That small little adjustment made all the world of difference.”

The Warriors were held scoreless in the third quarter but rallied in the fourth with two scores that kept the game within reach until the end.

Each time Meskwaki put the ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter, Giesking and the Rebels were there with a touchdown of their own.

Friday was the first time since the 2017 season that the Rebels have been able to enjoy a victory in their season opener, having been matched against perennial powerhouse Don Bosco in the first week of the past two seasons.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck will play host to Iowa Valley (1-0) who are coming in off of a 42-7 victory over Colo-NESCO in their opener. The Rebels defense will look to quell junior Tigers quarterback Brody Ward who went for four touchdowns last week.