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The Third Winning Streak: 1991 - 1992 - 1993

THE THIRD STREAK began on Friday, October 16, 1991, during Week #7 and would continue through the 1992 season all the way into post-season play of 1993; Habenicht’s prophetic comment, “I just hope some day we can do again what we’ve accomplished these past three years...” would ring so true that some wondered, “Did he know all along?”

The Bulldogs opened up the ’91 season with a 13-15 loss to Burlington but then rebounded by winning four straight games which included a 31-13 victory over eventual-M.A.C. champion Davenport Assumption.  “The Third Streak” officially began when the Bulldogs, coming off a 14-28 loss to Clinton in Week #6, smashed the Lancers of North Scott, 48-6, en route to a 7-2 regular season finish to qualify for the Class 4A playoffs; it was tongue-in-cheek that the Bulldogs actually finished fourth in the conference behind Assumption, Clinton, and Burlington—but would eventually be the team to beat in 4A.   To say the least, junior tailback Tavian Banks—who the year before missed the entire season after breaking his leg in a season-opener—led the state with his 9.2 average per carry and rushed for a total of 1,905 yards and 32 touchdowns and his path was cleared by offensive lineman Keith Lucier and Eric Lyons—both 1st Team All-State selections.  The traditional Bettendorf defense was as tightfisted as ever and was anchored by tackle Jed Orgill and end Pat Bateman who also both earned All-State honors after the season.

During the 1991 playoffs, Bettendorf clearly peaked by outscoring their opponents 127-41.  A 31-15 rout of Davenport Assumption in the 1st Round was followed by a 55-17 revenge-thrashing of Burlington during the Quarterfinals.  In the Semifinals against Dubuque Wahlert, defensive back Mitch Harvey intercepted four Eagle passes in a sound 41-9 victory to propel Bettendorf into their 5th title game appearance since 1980 against the Sioux City Heelan Crusaders.  The championship game was a defensive battle and Banks scored the only touchdown on a 68-yard fake-reverse scamper as Bettendorf won their seventh consecutive game, 6-0, as well as the school’s fourth Class 4A state football title.

In 1992, Bettendorf had a wealth of returning starters, including Banks, and soundly beat every opponent as they raced through the regular season to a 9-0 record.  Entering the 4A playoffs as the #1-ranked team and owner of 16-straight victories, Bettendorf’s was first tested by Davenport Assumption in the 1st Round but prevailed 28-18.  The next trial in the Quarterfinal match was against the Iowa City High Little Hawks—a rising force in Class 4A—who were led by speedy running back Tim Dwight who was only a junior.  Bettendorf initially was stunned by the Little Hawks who took an early 14-0 lead, however, the Bulldogs battled back by scoring twenty-four straight points and eventually won, 31-28, to meet Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the Semifinal Round.  A 14-0 triumph against the J-Hawks advanced the 12-0 Bulldogs to the state championship game where they met the West Des Moines Valley Tigers who also boasted an impressive 12-0 record.

However, the Tigers were no match for the Bulldogs and in a then-historical 41-0 smashing, Bettendorf not only won their fifth and second pair of back-to-back Class 4A state championships, but they also recorded their 20th consecutive win.  Banks, a Parade All-American running back, ran for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns in the game to end his senior year with a total of 2,394 yards and 42 touchdowns; the tailback owed much credit to his offensive line consisting of guard Brent Kock, center Chris Miller, end Shane McCallister, and All-State tackle Corey Ryan.  The defense also had its share of great players in the likes of end Chris Lensing and linebacker Eric Hoch—both of whom earned 1st Team All-State honors—as well as linebacker Mike Sage who was 2nd Team All-State selection.

Entering the 1993 season as the #1-ranked team, Bettendorf—without a doubt—was the team to beat and they proved that by carving through the regular season uncontested.  The Bulldogs outscored their opponents, 405-103—an average score of 45-11—en route to a 9-0 record while not only capturing their fifth M.A.C. title in seven years, but also extending the streak to 29 straight-wins.  Simply put, the Bulldogs handily defeated every single M.A.C. opponent they encountered and this was proven by the fact that their closest game point-wise was a 49-22 victory over Davenport North.

The offense was built around Paul Harnung (1,636 yards, 29 TDs) and Ron McQuay (1,072 yards, 18 TDs) who not only took turns leading the M.A.C. in rushing, but also became the first pair of Bettendorf backs since 1958 to rush for more than 1,000 yards in one season.  Both players had their paths cleared for them by end Frank Lawler, tackles Brock Ryan and Eric Hull, center Chris Taylor, and Brent Kock who provided quarterback Scott Longval plenty of time to complete 50 passes for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Placekicker Matt Schara, an eventual 1st Team All-State pick, was also deadly accurate as he made 58/60 extra points and 3/4 field goals during the season.  As well—despite the redundancy—the Bulldog defense yet again complemented the offense by limiting 7 of their 11 opponents from scoring more than two touchdowns a game and was led by the crew of end Rick Adriano, tackles Chris Cowherd and Shane Pearson, and back Jeff Mossbrucker.

Much like the 1989 squad four years before them, the 1993 team marched into the 4A playoffs intent on winning an unprecedented third-straight 4A state championship.  In the 1st Round game, the Bulldogs faced Davenport Assumption—their new M.A.C. rival whom they had defeated 34-7 during the regular season and this time around the Knights challenged the Bulldogs.  After a hard-fought game, Bettendorf ultimately prevailed, 21-18, to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

“The Third Streak” now stood at 30-straight games and the Bulldogs—for the fourth time in six years—were paired against the Iowa City High Little Hawks in the Quarterfinals.  Over 7,000 fans made TouVelle Stadium a standing-room-only venue; however, in this game, Dwight was a senior and wanted revenge—which, after yet another intense Bettendorf-Iowa City High brawl, he earned when his Little Hawks beat Bettendorf, 27-14, to end “The Third Streak” on Monday, November 8, 1993.  The defeat not only ended Bettendorf’s 30-game winning streak, but also their bid for a third-straight state championship.      

For post-season honors, Harnung, Kock, Ryan, and Schara were selected to the 1st Team All-State Squad while Mossbrucker, Adriano, Pearson, and Cowherd all earned 2nd Team honors.  As well, McQuay was a 3rd Team selection at running back while long-time assistant coach Randy Scott earned “Assistant Coach of the Year” honors by the Iowa Football Coaches Association. 

The Third Streak also marked the end of an era as not only would fourteen years would pass before another winning streak was born, but also the retirement of Merv Habenicht and the fact that Bettendorf would not play for another state title until the year 2000.