Union upsets No. 1 seed Waukon to advance to postseason second round
WAUKON – The No. 4 seed Union Knights became the talk of many Iowa high school football circles last Friday night after emerging victorious from the first round of the 2A playoffs by upsetting, 21-7, the favored winners, No. 1 seed Waukon.
“So many analysts talk about the importance of playing complementary football, where each phase of the game – offense, defense, and special teams – works together to accomplish a common goal, and I really think that’s what we did Friday night,” Union head coach Jared Pospisil told the Telegraph in an email Monday morning.
“The offense got us started with some explosive plays and a score early on; the defense did a good job of holding Waukon’s offense and forcing turnovers, and our special teams did a great job pinning Waukon deep in their own territory several times,” Pospisil continued.
The Knights had only won two games this season prior to the first-round playoff, while Waukon (5-4) had racked up four wins in a row – and a hefty dose of confidence – ahead of the postseason. But Coach Pospsil said his players went into the matchup with something more important on their side – a determination that can’t be captured by stats.
“The other thing that was so important was that our players believed. They believed that they belonged at this game, and they believed that they would win if we stuck together and took care of our jobs.”
Union started the game with a morale-rousing touchdown on the opening drive thanks to a long run by junior Justice Luke who took the ball on just the second play to the five-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Andrew Sadler threw six yards to receiver Logan Rosauer for the resulting touchdown.
After the Knights’ extra point was no good, Waukon answered with a touchdown of their own, putting the score at 7-6 in favor of the Indians but not for long. On just their second possession of the game, Union scored another touchdown.
With the extra two points good, Union led 14-7. Neither team scored in the second or third quarter.
In the final moments of the game Union punted on fourth down. The return placed the Indians on their own 15-yard line.
Following a failed pass and with less than 15 seconds remaining, Waukon again attempted to throw but quarterback Jacob Courtney was deflected by Union senior Brock Ruzicka who caught the tip and then ran it in for a 10-yard touchdown – firmly and resoundingly ensuring the win for the underdog Knights.
Against the Indians, quarterback Andrew Sadler led the offense for the Knights, going 11-for-21 with 145 yards and one touchdown. He also led the rushing game with 18 carries across 54 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, the Knights racked up 40 tackles with junior Briar Mast leading the way with 9.5 (eight solo) and one sack. They also notched four interceptions.
“This was a very exciting win for the program,” Coach Pospisil said. “It has been a long time since we’ve beaten Waukon.”
This week, the Knights (3-6) advance to the 2A Round of 16, traveling to Van Meter on Friday where they will face the undefeated, second-ranked Bulldogs (9-0).
“We look forward to the challenge of traveling to Van Meter to play a team with a lot of tradition,” Pospisil said in his final comments to the Telegraph.
Hopefully, the assurance that got the Knights this far continues.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium in Van Meter.