CN Breakdown

CN's Mark Hersom breaks down ISU commits Austen Arnaud from Ames High School and Zac Sandvig and Patrick Neal from West Des Moines Valley High School.

Last week I had the assignment to cover the high school football game featuring West Des Moines Valley at Ames High School. This game was built up for the last couple weeks as being the one to watch. What failed to happen was a good game.


The Ames Little Cyclones started the game off with some big momentum after the first three plays as ISU recruit RB Zac Sandvig was stopped after running the ball three straight carries gaining only seven yards. That wasn't the biggest news, but rather Sandvig suffered what would be a game ending ankle injury that left him on the sidelines the rest of the game. There was no worrying on the Valley sidelines as they knew there was a secret weapon coming into the game. This was none other than rising star sophomore running back, Joe Johnson.


Valley stopped Austen Arnaud on Ames' ensuing drive as Arnaud threw a couple passes too long and after gaining one first down, they were forced to punt the ball. Valley's WR Jake Williams had and excellent return of 45 yards and the Tigers were in business. 5-foot-9 170 pound Joe Johnson showed what he can do with the first string offensive line in front of him and this was his game to steal the show. That he did as he scored the first touchdown on a 5-yard run. That was followed by an 8-yard run less than a minute later as Ames fumbled on their next possession at their own eight. J


oe Johnson ran extremely hard and was breaking tackles, especially when Ames cut the lead to 21-7 but faltered on a missed field goal late in the second quarter. Johnson showed his outside speed by cutting off left tackle, breaking a couple hits and moving to the left sidelines and away he went, 46 yards for a blazing score that iced the game for the Valley Tigers to put them up 28-7 in the second quarter. This running back looked like Blaise Bryant with his ability to not only hit the hole in the middle but get around the outside and take it down the sidelines, running away from would be tacklers.


Johnson finished with five TD's and carried the ball 21 times for 162 yards. Not bad for a backup. This I know, the Hawks and Cyclones better be watching this one as you can't teach quickness around the edges, just look at this years Cyclones as wouldn't it be nice to have a back who can blaze around the corner?


Prize ISU recruit QB Austen Arnaud did not have a very good day. He had a rough start to the game completing one pass in his first seven attempts. There were only a couple dropped balls as he mostly over threw his receivers. He did however gather himself and with his team trailing 21-0, he lead them on an important drive and capped it with an awesome sell to the running back and touch pass over the middle to his receiver Bret Ballantine who finished with three catches for 60-yards and the 25-yard touchdown pass.


Ames got the ball back still trailing 21-7, and drove again to the Valley 12 where Arnaud was looking at a 2nd & 7. He faked the handoff to RB Nathan Grieving and then rolled to his right and tossed a spiral to his receiver who was wide open in the end zone, only to see it dropped. The next play Arnaud for about the first time I've seen all year misfired badly on a screen pass that should've been picked for the distance but was tipped down.

Valley's defense did an excellent job in containing Arnaud who rushed the ball six times for only 31 yards. He finished the game throwing 15-of-28 with one INT and 140 yards. Nathan Grieving finished with 56 yards on 15 carries and was harassed all night.


For Valley, they are the team to beat in Class 4A as their defense up front has tremendous speed. ISU recruit DE Patrick Neal had a really good game as his pass rush prevented Arnaud from getting on track. He did not record a sack but was in on many tackles and had a pass break up that may have been intercepted if Arnaud doesn't normally throw the screen pass.


All in all, this wasn't a very good night for ISU fans as Sandvig was injured, Arnaud's team lost 42-14 and the real Cyclones lost the following day.  

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