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Cedar Rapids Xavier defense drops Independence, 45-0

Maliki Wilson rushes for more than 100 yards and scores twice for Saints

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Domination with a capital "D."

In this case, the letter stands for the defense Cedar Rapids Xavier fielded for Homecoming.

The top-ranked Saints shut down Independence and scored on its first three possessions of the game en route to a 45-0 Class 3A District 3 victory Friday night at Saints Field.

Stingy defense and efficient offense was a good recipe for a decisive win and 6-0 start to the season and 4-0 in district play.

“Coach (Tom) Kopatich used to always tell us if they don’t score we win,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said of his former Cedar Rapids LaSalle coach. “Obviously, we’ve tried to stress defense a lot. We have over the years here and it paid off tonight.”

The Saints defense mauled the Mustangs. Xavier allowed just 17 offensive plays in the first half, allowing gains on just two plays. Independence’s offense lost two yards overall before the break, trailing 27-0 at halftime.

The Mustangs (0-6, 0-4) didn’t get a first down until the final quarter, converting on a 37-yard halfback pass, but that was the only one. They managed just 41 yards of total offense.

“We just wanted to stop them,” said Xavier defensive end Devin Lansing, noting film and teammates helped prepare the defense during the week. “We knew what was coming.”

The Saints rode the momentum with each stop, even when reserves began to take the field after their first possession of the second half.

“It gives us motivation to keep going,” Lansing said. “It also gives our second team motivation to keep pressure on them.”

Senior Maliki Wilson had another monster game for the Saints. He rushed for 146 yards on 13 carries. He sandwiched halftime with two touchdown runs.

He scored on a 20-yard run with 1:01 left in the second quarter. Wilson forced a continuous clock, bolting 62 yards on the opening play of the second half for a touchdown. His two-point conversion gave Xavier a 35-0 lead.

“I just found a cutback,” Wilson said. “I kind of used the ref as a blocker.

“The line is amazing. When they do their job, I just have to go against one or two people and then it’s just a foot race. Run around or through them.”

Wilson, who entered the game as the leading rusher in 3A, surpassed the 1,100-yard mark for the second straight season. He has 1,105 through six games and 2,378 over the last season and a half.

“I don’t have any goals for yardage,” Wilson said. “I just want us to win. It’s my senior year. I just want to win as many games as possible and win a championship.”

Xavier jumped to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Bryce Schulte had his hands in each of the first three touchdowns, including the first two drives that started on the Independence 42 and 48, respectively.

Schulte hit his brother, Quinn Schulte, for a 12-yard TD pass for a 6-0 lead. Bryce Schulte added runs of 1 and 2 yards on the next two possessions

The Saints have been solid and have looked stronger each week. They still have work to do, though.

“We saw many positives and good things,” Schulte said. “There are some kinks and ugly stuff here and there, too, that we need to get better at.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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