The Wartburg Knights football team played their final game of the 2016 season, closing out the year with a 42-14 victory over the Buena Vista Beavers. The Knights finished the season with a record of 6-4 (5-3).
Wartburg was dominant in almost every facet of the game and on both sides of the ball. They held a Beaver offense that normally gains over 400 yards per game, to only 284 yards. The defense also forced four turnovers that set up the Knights offense for easy scoring opportunities.
Starting cornerback Peyton Imhof had a career game for the Knights on Saturday, finishing with two interceptions and taking one back for a touchdown. After the game Imhof said the team prepared well for the Beaver offense during the week in practice.
“We did a great job game-planning for them and making the plays when we needed to, I think we were pretty well prepared for them,” Imhof said.
On the offensive side of the ball Wartburg had a very balanced attack in both the passing and rushing games. Quarterback Matt Sacia threw for nearly 300 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.
Connor Schrader led the rushing attack with 96 yards while Jake Haberman had the lone rushing touchdown.
Tight end Seth Hestness, who caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter, said he was very happy to come away with such a big win in his last game as a Knight.
“It’s a feeling you can’t really describe, all the work that we’ve put in, it seems like a lot of things haven’t went our way this season, but it feels great to go out with such a convincing win,” Hestness said.
This year’s senior class finishes their careers with a combined 36 wins and two Iowa Conference titles in their four seasons.
Wartburg’s attention will now turn to preparation for the 2017 season where they will attempt to win the conference title for the first time since 2014.
While they do graduate a very talented group of seniors, they also return a lot of key contributors.
On offense the Knights will return both Sacia and Schrader who led the team in passing and rushing yards respectively.
They will also return wide receivers Riley Brockway and Griffin Brennecke, who were the only two Knights to finish with over 50 receptions.
Defense is where Wartburg may suffer the most with graduating seniors, but will return players such as Imhof, defensive linemen Hunter Baldus and Mitch Roe and linebackers Tony Anstoetter and Sam Ambrose.
Head coach Rick Willis said the biggest key going into next season is to not be complacent and they need to come in ready to work, both in the offseason and preseason.
“Everybody’s got to get better and if everybody progresses from where they are right now, the future is bright,” Willis said.