The Van Meter Bulldogs picked up where it left off last season, opening with a victory over the visiting Earlham Cardinals in a non-district football game Friday, winning 33-22.

Jacob Ridgely, Earlham football

Earlham’s Jacob Ridgely touched the ball four times against Van Meter, but the Bulldog defense held the senior to one rushing yard on the night. Van Meter won the encounter, 33-12.

It is the fourth consecutive season Van Meter has opened the season with a victory. The last time the Bulldogs dropped the opening game of the season was in 2015, when the Madrid Tigers won handily, 50-35.

Senior QB Anthony Potthoff rushed for three TDs on 10 carries for 145 yards. Potthoff, along with Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center’s Kolby Jacobe and Clarinda’s Michael Shull all had three-TD nights in Class 1-A, District 8.

The Earlham-Van Meter game turned into a mostly ground game. Potthoff did throw for 26 yards on three successful passes while Earlham’s Alex Caskey had one completed pass, on a 41-yard touchdown strike to Jackson Vandever. Caskey’s pass to Vandever came with about 30 seconds remaining in the first half, putting the Cards on the board, as Van Meter stormed to a 19-0 lead, on a pair of Anthony Potthoff touchdown runs on quarterback keepers and a nine-yard run by Ian Abrahamson.

Van Meter’s 26 yards through the air was the fewest by the Bulldogs against  Earlham since throwing for 11 yards back in 1990.

Potthoff thrilled the home fans moments into the game, scoring on a 65-yard QB keeper. An extra point attempt, by the Bulldogs had the early 6-0 lead.

Potthoff’s second keeper was a five-yard run with 8:56 remaining in the second quarter. Abrahamson’s TD run came with about 4:17 left in the half, giving Van Meter a 19-0 lead.

Potthoff scored his third QB keeper about midway through the third quarter – it came on an 18-yard run as the Dogs pulled to a 26-6 advantage. Abrahamson rounded out the Van Meter scoring, on a four-yard touchdown scamper with 4:34 left in the game.

The Bulldog victory was the 11th straight over Earlham, which is the Bulldogs’ most common opponent since 1982. Van Meter has won the last 26 meeting with the Cards, and lead the series 22-16.

Caleb Swalla, Earlham football

Earlham’s senior Caleb Swalla (No. 33) scampered for a nine-yard touchdown run, rushing for 152 yards on 30 carries against the host Van Meter Bulldogs Friday in a non-district football game. Van Meter won, 33-22. Earlham senior QB Alex Caskey also connected on a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior Jackson Vandever. It was Vandever’s only reception of the night.

The Bulldogs’ regular-season winning streak now stands at 36 games.

Five of the six teams in Class 1-A, District 8 – including Van  Meter – won opening-night football games. Only West Central Valley of Stuart lost its non-district game, a 78-0 shutout by DM Christian.

In other Class 1-A, District 8 action, Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center beat host IKM-Manning, 32-21. AC/GC hosts Woodward Academy Friday. Clarinda, meanwhile, captured its home opener against visiting Shenandoah, 34-6. Clarinda is on the road to Red Oak this week. Mount Ayr beat visiting Nodaway Valley of Greenfield, 28-6, and travels to Truro this week to meet the Roadrunners. Panorama of Panora also opened the season with a home victory, shutting the Gaels of Fort Dodge St. Edmon, 25-0. Panorama makes the road trip to Manson-NW Webster this week in we two of the four-week non-district football season. 

Districts begin Sept. 27.

Van Meter 33, Earlham 12

Passing: E: Alex Caskey 1-4-0-41 (TD). VM: Anthony Potthoff 3-9-0-26.

Rushing: E: Caleb Swalla 30-152 (TD), Alex Caskey 10-30, Slater Goff 4-23, Max Vandever 4-19, Trey Bond 6-8, Jacob Ridgely 1-4. VM: Ian Abrahamson 18-155 (2TD), Anthony Potthoff 10-145 (3TD), Dalten Van Pelt 4-20, Colby Wiederholt 1-1, Ganon Archer 1-(-4).

Receiving: E: Jackson Vandever 1-41 (TD). VM: Kolby Booge 1-17, Cody Hoffman 1-6, Colby Wiederholt 1-3.

Tackles (5 or more): E: Caleb Swalla 7-3-10, Slater Goff 4-3-7, Derrin Sesker 4-2-6.

Returns: E: Caleb Swalla 1-20, Jacob Ridgely 1-16. VM: Cody Coffman 1-4, Maddox Artzer.

Reporter at the Winterset Madisonian. He has also been the managing editor at the Madisonian.