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Two minutes and fourteen seconds into Mid-Prairie’s Oct. 7 contest in Goose Lake, the Golden Hawk special teams unit lined up, the football was snapped, held, and for the 22nd consecutive time, Terrhyn Jacoby’s foot sent the ball through the uprights.
Then Mid-Prairie lined up for the kickoff. Jacoby lifted the ball into the air and watched a Rebel returner pick it up at the three yard line. He was met, and dropped by Keaton Duwa at the 16.
The next play was an incomplete pass to a Rebel receiver defended by Duwa.
The duo of play-making juniors continued to make contributions all over the field.
Jacoby returned a punt 36 yards to the Northeast 20, and two plays later added the extra point. He kicked off and Northeast again started inside its own 20. After the teams traded possession, he pinned the Rebels inside the 20 again with a 34-yard punt. He kicked another extra point.
Northeast gave up 131 rushing yards on the first ten rushes, so the Rebels crowded the line of scrimmage as the Golden Hawks turned to Duwa for his first carry.
He took the ball, found the hole, and sprinted 53 yards to the endzone. Jacoby kicked the extra point.
And that was just the first quarter.
Jacoby would add three catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Duwa would rush 10 more times for a total of 95 yards and two scores. Duwa led the defense with 7.5 tackles and two sacks. Jacoby added eight extra points.
Jacoby and the Golden Hawks dominated field position, as the average Mid-Prairie drive started at the 47-yard line, while the Rebels began an average drive from the 26.
When you have a Class 2A football program, you need players that can contribute in multiple phases of the game.
“It’s huge,” explained Mid-Prairie Coach Pete Cavanagh. “A lot of our guys can play multiple positions. They just have to do it, it’s a necessity and for the most part, they’re really good about doing what’s best for the team.”
As a seven-year-old, Terrhyn Jacoby wanted to play football, but living out in the country, he had no one to throw him the ball.
“Having a sister, I had no one to play football with, so I just started kicking the ball,” he recalled.
His grandfather got him some plastic goal posts, so he put on his Hawkeye gear and went to work.
“He could not touch a football unless he put that whole uniform on with the helmet and everything,” said his mother, Angela.
In 2014, he started attending an off-season camp with former NFL punter Filip Filipovic.
He made 12/14 charted field goals in the summer camp before his freshman season, and 12/12 the next year to finish first in his class each time, earning one of thirty invitations to the “Top Kicker in America” competition in Chicago.
He was the top junior and finished second overall in the competition, making 13 of 16 attempts, with a long of 57.
This past summer he kicked four days a week.
“Around 250-275 kicks a week is what he did all summer, along with a full-time job,” said his father, Matt Jacoby.
This season, he’s made 31 of 33 extra points, and field goal attempts from 32, 35 and 40 yards.
“I kind of expected it,” Jacoby said of his success this season, “but without the line blocking the way they are, and Karson holding as well as he has, I wouldn’t have it. A lot of it is on them.”
Jacoby leads Class 2A with 25 touchbacks on 47 kickoffs. For perspective, the fourth-best total in the class is six touchbacks.
Jacoby also leads Mid-Prairie with 155 receiving yards, after a 39-yard touchdown catch on the last play of the first half at Northeast.
“I didn’t think Karson was going to throw it, since I was double-covered,” he explained, “but I looked up and the ball was coming. I was just hoping that the tip would be bad, and it was, so I caught it and scored.”
His combination of skills have given the Golden Hawks a special teams edge and big-play capability on offense.
“He’s been really consistent kicking the ball,” Coach Cavanagh said.
“His touchbacks are huge. He’s been awesome, and that’s just from a field position standpoint.
“He’s always a threat for a field goal. We haven’t kicked as much as we want to, we just haven’t been in the type of games where it’s called for it. And offensively, he provides the speed that we need. He’s pretty versatile from that respect.”
Keaton Duwa is another player who brings playmaking ability on more than one side of the ball. Mid-Prairie’s change-of-pace running back has averaged over ten yards per carry this season and has 147 yards on just four kickoff returns.
The young tailback knows what to do with the ball in his hands, “I’m just hoping to get a good block and try to make something out of it,” he said. “If I get a good block, I just do my best and if that’s the way it works, then that’s the way it works.”
It’s worked for 521 yards this season, from a player that averages just over six carries per game.
“He’s been really solid all year and he’s getting better,” Coach Cavanagh said. “He’s just a tough kid, he’s only 140 lbs, but he’ll stick his nose in there and run hard.”
Last season, Duwa started to bring that toughness to a new phase of his game.
“He has always been a little guy that makes up for his size with his heart and determination,” said his mother, Andrea.
“He pretty much only played offense his seventh through ninth grade years. It wasn’t until last year, when he got the chance to play outside linebacker, that he learned that he loved to hit and now really enjoys the defensive side of the game.”
After eight games, Duwa is among the top four Golden Hawks in tackles (41), tackles for loss (4.5), sacks (2), and fumble recoveries (2).
On Saturday mornings, the two-way player is “usually really sore and tight, but that’s the way football goes,” he said.
With mental and physical preparation, an understanding of their role, and gameday effort, the two all-purpose juniors are a perfect example of what it means to play football at a small-town high school in Iowa.