INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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Iowa Valley took a step closer to its first playoff berth since 2012.
The Tigers did it by notching their biggest victory of the season.
Iowa Valley defeated third-ranked Lone Tree, 62-38, in an 8-Player, District 4 contest Friday night at Marengo. The victory forced a tie for second with one week remaining, as both teams vie for one of two automatic playoff berths.
The Tigers are looking for their first playoff berth since 2012 and 10th overall. They need district frontrunner Midland to beat Lone Tree next week or close the regular season with a little more than a double-digit win over WACO.
“I let the boys know we control our own destiny,” Iowa Valley first-year head coach Cody Snitker said. “If we get these points, we should be good to go.”
The transition to the 8-player game has been successful, going 6-2 with a 4-1 district mark. Snitker said players devoted more time in the offseason to improve and the community has buzzed with excitement to support the program. The seniors endured three straight losing seasons and ending their careers with postseason play would be special.
“They have been through a lot,” Snitker said. “They want these boys to believe why not us and it can be our turn this year, if we do what we need to do.”
Lone Tree broke a long fourth-down run for the game’s first score. The Tigers responded immediately with their own score and took the lead on a two-point conversion.
“We kept the lead the rest of the game, but basically through the third quarter they were within 9-10 points of us,” Snitker said. “When the fourth quarter came, we kind of piled it on a little bit more.”
Bennett Goettsch made another big contribution. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior rushed for 239 yards on 36 carries and scored six touchdowns. Goettsch has 1,596 yards on the ground and 33 TDs this season.
“He’s a gamer,” Snitker said. “You hate to overuse a kid in tough games like that but when you have a kid like Bennett Goettsch … you give him the ball when you know the ability that he has. He gets a lot of touches in a big game like that. He wants the game decided by him because that’s how big of a competitor he is.”
RAIDERS WIN SEVENTH STRAIGHT
Williamsburg won its seventh straight game and remained unbeaten against Class 2A opponents, handling Northeast, 56-22, Friday night at Goose Lake.
The victory sets up a District 5 showdown between fourth-ranked Mount Vernon (6-2, 6-0) and the No. 10 Raiders at Williamsburg in the regular-season finale. Both have earned playoff berths already. It was hard not to look ahead to this clash.
“It is something we all knew could happen the last week,” Williamsburg Coach Curt Ritchie said. “We tried not to look forward to it any more than you possibly could not. Can’t believe it is here already.”
The Raiders (7-1, 6-0) opened the season with 19 of 22 offensive and defensive players making their first varsity starts. Williamsburg was even without the services of lineman Quentin Stumpff and all-stater Derek Greiner, who were sidelined by injury early.
As the season has progressed, so have the Raiders.
“It’s been a fun group to work with,” Ritchie said. “We had a lot of inexperience coming into the year and they’ve continued to get better each and every week.
“We had things to overcome. We knew we had a chance to be pretty good before it was all said and done.”
Williamsburg has been powered by a potent run game, entering Week 8 with 2,262 yards. Senior Jason Wardenburg was the leading rusher with 865 yards, while sophomore Gage Hazen-Fabor had 753. Both had nine TDs. Gage Blythe, who had thrown for 404 passing yards and seven scores through the air, had 163 yards on the grown and four TDs.
“Every program has to have their identity and that’s what we’ve always hung our hat on,” Ritchie said. “It’s definitely what we believe in.”
SCHULTE PASSES BROTHER
Cedar Rapids Xavier senior quarterback Bryce Schulte threw three touchdown passes in a 32-8 victory Friday night over Vinton-Shellsburg at Saints Field.
The fourth-quarter scoring strike — a 2-yarder to younger brother, Quinn Schulte, gave him 50 career TD passes. He eclipsed the school’s career mark of 49 set by older brother, Reggie Schulte from 2010-2011.
According to a statistics list compiled by former Gazette sports editor Mark Dukes, Bryce Schulte entered the season tied for fourth all-time in the Metro with former Cedar Rapids Washington quarterback Wyatt Suess, who had 36 career TD passes from 2006-08. Bryce Schulte also surpassed Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Guy Martino (fourth with 40 from 2006-07) and Linn-Mar’s Mark Atwater (third with 45 from 2010-11).
Bryce Schulte also climbed the charts of all-time passing yardage. He has 3,716 passing yards, which is just 286 shy of his older brother’s school record, which is third-best in the Metro behind Suess (4,826) and Martino (4,649).
Bryce Schulte has thrown for 967 yards this season and 14 TDs, helping second-ranked Xavier to a Class 3A District 3 title and an 8-0 record.
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