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Rusty VanWetzinga still vividly remembers Randy Scott's words.

After Bettendorf's football team throttled Pleasant Valley by seven touchdowns six years ago, the former Bulldogs coach told VanWetzinga, in his first season as head coach, "You've got a lot of work to do here, Rusty."

Now, PV has back-to-back wins over its crosstown rival for the first time in 17 seasons after Friday night's 35-14 triumph at a packed Spartan Stadium.

"He was right," VanWetzinga said of Scott's comment. "We had a lot of room for improvement and I've never forgotten that. They are the program we always look to, the one we want to compare ourselves against."

The victory helped the Class 4A fifth-ranked Spartans (4-0) seize control of the Mississippi Athletic Conference race at nearly the midway point.

And PV turned to an unlikely source to hand Bettendorf its first defeat.

Senior Adam O'Brien, who had just seven carries in the first three games, ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's kind of our wild card," PV center Landon Carney said. "He's a guy that is always fired up, ready to go and going 100 miles per hour."

O'Brien tallied the first two scores of the game as PV built a 20-0 halftime cushion.

"You've got to expect anything going into a game like this," O'Brien said. "You have to make of it what you can, and I think I did that more than I even expected tonight."

Fullback T.J. Zerbonia had 143 yards on the ground and two scores as the Spartans finished with 354 yards rushing.

Zerbonia serves as the bruiser in the backfield. O'Brien, 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, brings a change of pace with his quick burst.

"Adam is a scrapper and runs hard, a good fit for our offense," VanWetzinga said. "He's about as quick as we've got."

Bettendorf was without starting quarterback Cyle Cox, who injured an ankle in the first half last week against Davenport West.

Bulldog coach Aaron Wiley wasn't certain until late in the week that Cox wouldn't play.

"He just didn't progress," Wiley said. "He's just one guy, but obviously we'd like to have him."

Sophomore Owen Ridenour stepped in and led two scoring drives, but the Bulldogs turned it over four times — two of those resulting in PV touchdowns.

"Can't go minus-4 in turnovers and beat a good team," Wiley said. "Plus, we've got to shore some things up on defense."

Ridenour, who was 6 of 16 passing for 91 yards, threw one interception and lost a fumble.

"We wanted to introduce him to varsity football," PV defensive end Brennan Karber said. "At the same time, we didn't think about it too much."

John McLaughlin had 142 yards on the ground for the Bulldogs, who finished with 341 yards of offense.

Bettendorf pulled within two scores on two occasions in the second half, but PV answered each time behind its veteran offensive line.

Zerbonia punctuated the win with a 13-yard touchdown run 4-plus minutes into the fourth quarter.

"Holy crap, our linemen did a great job," O'Brien said. "They were sealing guys on the edges, and putting guys on their butt."

As a result, PV is the last unbeaten remaining in the MAC and still owns bragging rights on its rival for the foreseeable future.

A rematch could happen in the playoffs.

"We could see them again," O'Brien said, "and that's not out of our sights."


Bettendorf 0 0 14 0 -- 14
Pleasant Valley 7 13 7 8 -- 35


First Quarter

PV - Adam O'Brien 18 run (Hunter Sickels kick), 10:35

Second Quarter

PV - O'Brien 6 run (run failed), 7:36

PV - T.J. Zerbonia 3 run (Sickels kick), 1:24

Third Quarter

Bett - Owen Ridenour 51 run (Charlie Cox kick), 5:13

PV - Brady Letney 9 run (Sickels kick), 3:38

Bett - Gabe Rees 54 pass from Ridenour (Cox kick), 0:39

Fourth Quarter

PV - Zerbonia 13 run (O'Brien run), 7:37


First downs  16  19
Rushes-yards  45-250  52-354
Passing yards  91  7
Total yards  341  361
Comp-Att-Int  6-16-1  3-9-0
Punts-Avg.  3-37.3  3-30.7
Fumbles-lost  3-3  1-0
Penalties-yards  6-55  4-30


Rushing -- Bettendorf, John McLaughlin 24-142, Owen Ridenour 15-88, Gabe Rees 3-10, Mark Wells 2-9, Xavier LaDouceur 1-1. PV, T.J. Zerbonia 15-143, Adam O'Brien 10-107, Brady Letney 18-63, Chase Kipper 1-36, Nick Slavens 5-23, Team 3-(-18).

Passing -- Bettendorf, Ridenour 6-16-1, 91 yards, TD. PV, Letney 3-8-0, 7 yards; Noah Bryant 0-1-0, 0 yards.

Receiving -- Bettendorf, Rees 1-54, Grant Spranger 1-15, McLaughlin 1-12, Matt Penrose 2-10, Wells 1-0. PV, Ryan Blunk 1-7, Zerbonia 1-1, Slavens 1-(-1).


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.