CEDAR FALLS — No crossbar crucifixion this time.
The Waukon Indians made sure the only suffering Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome was from the opponent. That’s just how superior they were in the Class 2A state championship football game.
With a stout defense, Mitchell Snitker and a cast of fellow fine offensive skill guys, Waukon strolled to a 29-0 win over Williamsburg. It’s the school’s first state football title, its first state title in any sport since 2010 (girls’ basketball).
“More of a relief than a thrill,” said Waukon Coach Chad Beermann.
This was such the opposite of four years ago, when the Indians were emotionally crushed in the championship game by a winning field goal from Carroll Kuemper on the final play that bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights. Zero drama and zero crushing here.
“Those guys were the first ones to play for the title, and they came up just short,” Snitker said. “For us to see how hard they worked and stuff, they paved the way. They showed us how to get here.”
Snitker and teammate Tristan Hansmeier were ballboys back in 2013 and major players in this redeeming victory.
“Crossbar, two inches. That’s what I remember,” Hansmeier said. “All those guys worked hard and came up just that short. It was hard on them. I just didn’t want the same thing to happen to us.”
Snitker won the battle of all-state running backs with a 202-yard rushing game that included a touchdown and a pair of two-point conversions. He and his team were at their best in a dominant second half that saw Waukon outscore Williamsburg, 21-0, and outgain the Raiders by over a two-to-one margin.
“He’s a stud,” Hansmeier said. “The best 2A player in the state.”
“I think he’s great,” agreed Williamsburg Coach Curt Ritchie. “He is obviously what makes them go. But they’ve got guys around him. Bottom line is they’ve got a lot of playmakers, and they do a great job of spreading them out.”
Wingback Evan Armstead had a TD catch and rush for Waukon (12-1), which lost in Week 4 to Cascade, then ran the table. Quarterback Abe Schwartz had two touchdown passes.
The Indians defense was a companion story, preventing Williamsburg’s Gage Hazen-Fabor (2A’s leading rusher) from breaking any big runs. Hazen-Fabor had 97 yards rushing, but it took 26 carries to get there.
Hansmeier led Waukon with 10 tackles from his linebacker spot, including three for loss. Strong safety Snitker was next with nine stops.
“We lined up right, we tackled, we were flying around, getting hats on the ball,” Snitker said. “For the most part, we were keeping contain on (Hazen-Fabor). He’s fast, and you don’t want him to get to the edge. I just thought we did a really good job all over defensively.”
“The first half, I thought we left some points on the board. Made some mistakes that cost us,” Beermann said. “The second half, we kept control of the clock, and our defense made the stops when they had to.”
That included twice in the second quarter. Williamsburg (9-3) reached the Indians 38 midway through the quarter, but turned the ball over on downs.
Waukon then went down and broke a scoreless dual via a 10-yard TD pass from Schwartz to Michael Sweeney and a two-point pass from Schwartz to Snitker. Williamsburg put together some things on its corresponding possession, but Hansmeier stuffed Hazen-Fabor for a two-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 play at the Waukon 40.
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“Those were some good opportunities,” said Williamsburg tight end-defensive end Ben Subbert. “That would have set the tone out right for us. Would have gotten on top of them early perhaps ... We just didn’t capitalize and finish the way we would have liked to.”
“You’ve got to convert on one of those early ones because they just have so many weapons on offense,” Ritchie said. “You give them enough opportunities, pretty soon they are going to find a way to make a play with one of those guys. I thought our defense played tremendous. We just couldn’t find a way to get a score and get them out of their game, or get us on track. They’re a tough team to play.”
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