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Van Buren wins first homecoming game in 10 years

Van Buren checks off more milestones with win
By ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger sports editor | Sep 30, 2013
Photo by: ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger photo Van Buren’s Wyatt Cole would intercept a pass on this play during the second quarter Friday. The Warriors defeated New London 40-6.

The 1969 Warriors football team was brought back and introduced at halftime of the homecoming game Friday in Keosauqua as a reminder of how long it has been since Van Buren has accomplished greatness.

The 69’ Warriors went undefeated and beat WACO, who at the time was a powerhouse. As their names were called, members of the team stepped forward and we’re recognized on the field. A consistent applause of appreciation resonated from the crowd.

Just like these legends of the past were, the current Van Buren squad is entering uncharted waters.

When the clock struck zero on Friday, the Warriors won their third game of the season, which is already more victories than all of last year. Not only was it a victory, but it was the first homecoming victory for Van Buren in 10 years. If that wasn’t enough, defeating WACO last week was the first time the Warriors have won that district matchup in more than 40 seasons. The last Van Buren team to beat WACO? The legendary 1969 team, of course.

“We don’t have a real strong tradition,” Van Buren head coach Mike Hurley said. “We brought the class of ‘69 back and they were the last Van Buren team to go undefeated. That helped motivate the kids to win this game.”

Van Buren defeated New London 40-6. The Warriors tied the game at six with 11:05 still to go in the second quarter when Garrett Saunders found Casey Jones for a long touchdown pass. New London’s next drive was stifled by a Brayden Starnes interception. The rest of the game belonged to the Warriors.

Saunders was all over the field yet again. He went 8 for 15 through the air for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Saunders also rushed for 25 yards, caught an interception and made six tackles.

“It was a great win for us,” Saunders said. “I guess now we’re going to go dance and celebrate it.”

Saunders’ supporting cast had tremendous games as well. Vaughn Helling rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown. Fellow running back Aaron Clemens rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Warriors defense caught four interceptions and frustrated the Lions’ offense the entire night. Brandon Plecker’s late interception return permanently shut the door.

The Warriors have winnable games coming up against Highland Riverside and Lone Tree. Hurley is trying to stay calm and trying not to think about a possible playoff berth this early in the season.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” Hurley said. “We’re not looking forward to anyone, we’ll just take the next game as it comes. Our next game is Highland, and it’s at Highland.”

Saunders found it more difficult to mask his enthusiasm.

“Now we won our homecoming, so who knows what could happen,” Saunders said. “We’re on a roll.”

Maybe the 2013 legends can surprise all of their predecessors.

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