Chet Knake knew his football team had a chance to be good this season, but even the Bellevue coach is surprised at how dominant the Comets have been to start the year.
Through four games, Bellevue is 4-0 and has outscored opponents by an average of 47.5-5.3. The defense has posted two shutouts, including a 44-0 win over Durant last week.
Now the Comets get a big test against 10th-ranked West Branch Friday at Bellevue Field.
"The way we’ve been winning has shocked me in a good way," Knake said. "We’ve become a very balanced team, our defense has stepped up and got our offense back on the field."
The key to this success, Knake feels, is the balance of the offense. In the season opener against Camanche, facing a loaded box, the Comets went to the air as Cade Daugherty threw for 174 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-0 win.
The next game, when Daugherty struggled with four interceptions, Peter Kilburg led the way with 217 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Kilburg has continued to pile up the yards, rushing for 258 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 44-0 win over Durant. The senior currently is sixth in the state among all classes with 788 rushing yards and has 12 touchdowns."
"I've never seen a guy have jump cuts and go side-to-side and get out of his breaks like Peter Kilburg can," Knake said. "He's fun to watch run, he'll make four to five cuts full speed, he makes a lot of guys miss in the secondary. He's quick to the hole. He's a special back."
Hot on Kilburg's tail is West Branch senior Luke Lenoch. A four-year varsity player, Lenoch has 767 yards and 12 touchdowns this year, and is 28th all-time in the state with 4,951 rushing yards. He became the school's all-time touchdowns leader last week with 69 career scores.
"It feels like he's been there for eight years," Knake said. "Like we are against everybody, we're the smallest team ... I think (West Branch) is going to look at that and look at its size and if it's a close game, Lenoch is going to see 35 carries. I think they're going to use their horse a lot."
Though two of the best running backs in the state are facing off, they both present different running styles.
"He's a different back than Peter Kilburg. Lenoch is more of a bruiser, he's really tough to tackle, he's like a bowling ball," Knake said. "Peter will be more shifty than Lenoch is. They have two different styles but both are very different running backs to get down ... it's going to be a challenge."
Despite the strong start, Bellevue is still outside the top 10 in Class 1A. A win would almost certainly put the Comets in the rankings, and show that they're a program to be reckoned with.
"It would be a big step in our program," he said. "We give West Branch a lot of respect, they do it year in and year out at a small school but we want to be one of those programs where, no matter who we have, people know we're going to compete and be in that top half. If we can beat West Branch, that means we're starting to make that next step."
STREAKING COMET: Camryn Reeg, a Bellevue junior is the top-ranked cross country runner in the latest Class 1A girls rankings released Tuesday.
Reeg is coming off a first place finish at the Comet Invitational Meet on Monday with a time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds, 45 seconds ahead of Marquette's Halle Kilburg. Fellow Comet Kailey Miller finished third but the Comets didn't place due to fielding an incomplete team. North Cedar finished second with 60 points.
Cole Moeller from Calamus-Wheatland, ranked 16th among Class 1A boys, finished first in the event with a time of 17:20, 22 seconds ahead of teammate and 13th ranked Hunter Rickels. Moeller and Rickles led the team, ranked ninth in Class 1A, to a first-place finish.
Bellevue's Eli Witt finished third, while the Comets finished second in the team standings.
CHARGING THE NET: Orion volleyball enjoyed an undefeated run to the Class 2A state tournament last year, where the Chargers finally fell in the state title game.
Though they've already lost a few matches this season, the Chargers (13-3) are still playing well, having won the Judy Richmond Classic Saturday in Aledo. The team went 4-0 at the tournament, which included a 24-26, 25-16, 15-9 win over Sherrard in the title game and beat Morrison in straight sets Tuesday to move to 4-1 in the Three Rivers.
Sarah Jacobsen was the lone all-tournament selection for the Chargers.