Thomas sets school record; Warriors roll in finale
KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren head coach Rich Wiegand didn’t know what to expect coming into Van Buren’s season finale vs. Danville in Keosauqua.
Turns out, it would be one of those nights he and his players would never forget.
Senior Curtis Thomas set a school record for most rushing yards in a game with 293, and the Warriors won their second game of the season, a 44-8 drubbing of Danville on Senior Night.
“It’s one of those nights you don’t want to end,” said Wiegand. “We talked about the seniors going out on a winning note and they did just that.”
Thomas set the school record on 28 carries, breaking off one 78-yard touchdown run and scoring three total touchdowns. Sophomore Garrett Saunders also scored three touchdowns on the ground while racking up 88 yards, and sophomore Vaughn Helling also totaled 88.
“A ton of credit needs to go to our offensive line. Curtis and our other backs did a great job running the ball but they guys up front deserve a ton of credit,” Wiegand said.
Saunders added to his big day on the ground with 4-for-6 passing for 61 yards. Three of his passes went to Brandon Plecker for 54 total yards, and Noah Whitten hauled in one catch for seven yards.
“Garrett ... did a great job directing our offense,” said Wiegand. “I gave him the freedom to check out of plays and there were a couple times he checked out and it turned into a long gain.”
On defense, the Warriors gave up one long touchdown early but held Danville in check the rest of the game. Overall, the young Van Buren defense forced three interceptions while holding the visiting Bears to 86 rushing yards.
Sophomore Brayden Starnes had two of those interceptions and a fumble recovery, while Saunders had the other pick. Juniors Mitch Garrells and Casey Jones tallied seven stops apiece, and sophomore Jesse Fuller and Thomas had five each. Both senior Corbin Kisling and freshman Will Mertens made four tackles.
It would’ve been easy for Van Buren (2-7, 2-5 Class A District 5), which had one win in its first eight games, to give up on the season. Wiegand was pleasantly surprised to see quite the opposite.
“I’m very proud of the kids and their effort Friday,” the head coach said. “Some teams — and we’ve even had the history of doing this — go into cruise control the last week of the season.”
Van Buren 44, Danville 8
Rushing — (VB) Thomas 28-293 (3TD), Saunders 21-88 (3TD), Helling 15-88
Passing — (VB) Saunders 4-6-61
Receiving — (VB) Plecker 3-54, Whitten 1-7
Tackles — (C) Jones 7, Garrells 7, Thomas 5, Fuller 5, Kisling 4, Mertens 4, Saunders 3 (INT), Starnes 2 (2INT), Plecker 2, Barker, Carr