MT. Pleasant — The year is 2008. The Summer Olympics have just finished up in China, Barack Obama and John McCain are fighting for the White House and Mt. Pleasant is beating up on rival Washington on the football field at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex. Flash forward 12 years, where the ladder hasn’t happened since.
Of all the teams on Mt. Pleasant’s schedule, Washington has been the biggest thorn in the Panthers’ side. The Demons have now won nine-in-a-row, one away from a double-digit winning streak in one of Southeast Iowa’s most heated rivalries.
The first win of the streak was a 21-20 comeback win at Case Field in Washington. That day, Washington quarterback Jake Redlinger, then a sophomore, threw for one touchdown and ran for another to lead the Demons back from a 20-12 halftime deficit.
After the one-point win in 2009, the rivalry took a break. Redistricting put the Mt. Pleasant-Washington game on hold for two years and the two teams didn’t meet again until 2012, where Washington would win the first of five-straight blowouts in the series.
In the last three showdowns, the rivalry has been taken to a different level. Both Mt. Pleasant and Washington brought legitimate playoff hopes into the 2017, 2018 and 2019 matchups. The Panthers have given the Demons all they could handle in the last three showdowns, but Washington has escaped with a win every time.
Washington won a grinder in 2018, picking up a 16-14 win at Case Field after Mt. Pleasant led 7-0 at halftime. In 2019, Mt. Pleasant held a 10-point lead after the first quarter but once again the Demons stormed back and took the game 28-23.
Then came one of the best games in the rivalry’s long history. Last year’s matchup between the Panthers and Demons had everything; a playoff atmosphere, monster performances from two senior quarterbacks, and a thrilling finish.
Mt. Pleasant and Washington combined for a ridiculous 125 points in their 2019 thriller. Panther quarterback Brody Bender threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns, and Washington’s Luke Turner accounted for 473 all-purpose yards, with four touchdowns on the ground and two in the passing game.
The game had a kick-return touchdown from Demon receiver Spencer Sotelo, who will suit up for his last regular season game against Mt. Pleasant on Friday. It had a defensive touchdown from now graduated Rylan Seberg, who took one of Turner’s passes the other way. It had a clutch touchdown catch by Mt. Pleasant’s Brevin Wilson, who scored with just a 1:34 remaining, and it had the game-winning run by Turner, who plowed into the end zone with 12.6 seconds on the clock.
Since then, the 2020 edition of the rivalry has been circled on everyone’s calendar, and now with the game being played under the lights on Mt. Pleasant’s homecoming, the stakes seem even higher.
If Washington wins, it means 10-straight victories over its chief rival and thoughts of an undefeated regular season. If Mt. Pleasant wins, it would mean one of the biggest homecoming victories in the school’s history, and would put the Panthers in the driver’s seat for a district championship.
The latest installment of this historic rivalry will kick off at approximately 7:30 at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex, the site of Mt. Pleasant’s last win in the series. Two teams enter, but only one will walk out victorious.