CEDAR RAPIDS — They called themselves the misfits.
A bunch of inexperienced second-string football players who found themselves thrust into the limelight.
After their 31-13 win over Pella on Nov. 16, the Xavier football team proved its own name wrong.
Now they are state champions for the first time since 2006.
While the nickname was originally intended for the Saints’ defense, it spread throughout the entire team. This was extra motivation on their march to a state championship.
“We called ourselves the misfits because no one believed in us all year,” senior defensive end Cole Goerdt said. “The so-called ‘experts’ predicted us to lose so many games this year, and this really motivated us.”
The Saints played nothing like misfits on in the state championship game, with a series of long run plays, huge sacks and a few trick plays. The Saints’ first drive of the game lasted 13 plays and ended with a touchdown by senior fullback Joey Drahozal. Another notable play came at the end of the first half with a trick play. Junior quarterback Quinn Schulte threw a lateral pass to senior receiver Gabe Lux, who then threw to senior fullback McClain Burger for a touchdown.
This was a major turning point in the game, according to Lux.
“Big plays always help give momentum in any game,” he said. “They hype the team and student section up. This one really helped calm some championship nerves going into halftime and let us play freely in the second half.”
The seniors, having played together for most of their lives, ended their careers in the best possible way. While this year’s team may not have had the stars of years past, it gelled and worked as a team to accomplish an undefeated season.
For those who played their last snap, there was an array of emotions once the game ended.
“It was an incredible experience. It was so cool to be the second team to ever win in Xavier history,” senior receiver Jack Scott said. “I was very proud of my teammates. It didn’t hit me that it was my last time playing football until I got on the bus, but we couldn’t have gone out in a better way.”
This group of misfits proved many wrong, and made the Xavier community proud.
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The Saints will look to reload next year, with many starters returning. Their aim, as always, will be another state title.