Rebels rip Braves in 1st round

No. 9 Gladbrook-Reinbeck mauls Montezuma 64-18 in 8-Man playoffs

Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior quarterback Isaac Clark (12) meets Montezuma defensive back Garrett Watts (7) with determination on a play during last Friday’s 8-Man state football playoff game in Gladbrook. The Rebels advanced with a 64-18 win. PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

GLADBROOK — Austin Vaverka will find a way to beat opposing defenses.

When it wasn’t coming as easy in the run game last Friday against Montezuma, the Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior got into open spaces as a receiver.

He was a key part of an aerial assault by the Rebels resulting in a 64-18 romp over the Braves in a first-round postseason game at Gladbrook.

G-R (8-1) advances to the Round of 16 and will face the Wildcats (8-1) at Central City this Friday.

Vaverka caught five passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns on receptions of 25, 63 and five yards. He was one of two Rebels with 100-plus receiving yards as Drew Eilers grabbed six passes for 100 yards and three more scores.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck wide receiver Hudson Clark, right, makes a leaping catch in front of Montezuma’s David Rose on his way to a touchdown during last Friday’s state football playoff game in Gladbrook. PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

Isaac Clark completed 16-of-25 passes for 275 yards and six touchdowns and added a score on his feet to go with 11 carries for 67 yards.

“I think we could have run the ball a little more, because we have a much more balanced offense this year than maybe last year,” G-R head coach John Olson said. “But Vaverka is a pretty special player and if we can’t hand off because other teams are stopping it, we’ve got to get him the ball in space and we did that a couple of times, a quick dump pass and he takes it to the house.”

Vaverka also had a hand in one of two crucial turnovers forced by the Rebels on Friday, hauling in a fumble recovery when a high snap went over Montezuma quarterback Brady Boulton, with Eilers batting it away from pursuing Braves to give Vaverka time to scoop it.

“I saw Drew giving it his all right at the ball and I thought he might knock it out at a different angle,” Vaverka said. “I thought they might still get it but I still hustled down there with everything I got and I figured if I could hit a guy maybe they’d lose the ball and that’s exactly what happened. So you gotta give it to Drew there.

The other major swing was a Trevyon Herron interception return for touchdown, which came at the perfect time before the end of a first half where Montezuma was looking to score on three-consecutive drives before half.

Instead of potentially being a one-score game, Herron’s pick-six made it a three-possession affair, 36-12, at the half.

“They had some momentum going there,” Olson said. “It wasn’t quite a flashback to Clarksville but looking back it was kinda like that Clarksville game, where we didn’t score and they did, and if they had scored there they would get the ball back in the second half. But we had the right coverage called in there and Trey’s just an outstanding player for a young guy. Fast, tough, and smart, he really gets it and really works hard at it.”

As it turned out, the Braves scored on their first second-half possession, but G-R immediately answered with Vaverka’s 63-yard touchdown reception and his fumble recovery was immediately followed on the next play by Eilers snatching a 20-yard score from Clark.

“[Boulton] is really quick, so you can’t just leave him to defend pass,” Vaverka said. “You have to hope he makes a mistake, and that fumble plus the interception really helped us.”

Eilers entered as quarterback when Clark left with a muscle cramp late in the fourth quarter and lofted a five-yard score to Vaverka. Hudson Clark added five catches for 47 yards and a score.

“The line gave Isaac a lot of time tonight and they worked hard,” Eilers said. “Isaac was throwing the ball really well and our receivers got up pretty good.”

As a junior, Eilers had hoped that some upsets around the state would allow the second-seeded Rebels to host one more game.

But even though hosting again wasn’t in the cards for this Friday, it was a hell of a way to send them out.

“It’s awesome to win in the playoffs,” Vaverka added. “But last year this [winning the first round] was our goal. There’s a bigger goal now.”