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Iowa high school football playoffs: A look at the Gazette area state semifinals
Cedar Rapids Xavier, West Branch, Williamsburg, Mount Vernon look to make Dome statements this week
CEDAR FALLS — Four area teams remain. All are undefeated.
The 2022 Iowa high school playoffs move indoors this week for the semifinals. The 8-Player class kicks things off on Wednesday, with two classes Thursday, two Friday and two Saturday.
Winners advance to next week’s championship round.
Capsules on games involving area teams:
No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier (11-0) vs. No. 7 North Scott (9-2)
Class 4A Semifinal, 7 p.m. Thursday
Xavier recorded a 17-0 win at Eldridge on Sept. 16, the first of four consecutive shutouts that the Saints notched. Xavier hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown since Week 1 and allows only 4.5 points per game. The Saints pulled away in the second half to beat Indianola in the quarterfinals, 23-6, behind Michael Cunningham’s 173 yards and Kale Christensen’s three field goals. A win would send Xavier to the championship game for the fourth time since 2017; the Saints won 3A titles in 2017 and 2018 and were 4A runners-up last year. North Scott was the 3A champion in 2020. The Lancers have won six straight games, including a 20-10 quarterfinal road win over No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock last week, scoring 13 fourth-quarter points. Cole Jennings caught four passes for 121 yards.
No. 3 West Branch (11-0) vs. No. 1 Van Meter (10-1)
Class 1A Semifinal, 10 a.m. Friday
West Branch found itself in a quarterfinal bind, trailing MFL MarMac, 24-13, entering the fourth quarter. But Tye Hughes ran for a pair of late touchdowns to rescue the Bears and send them to the Dome for the first time since 2011. Hughes ran for 122 yards. Now, the Bears have their sights set on their first finals appearance since winning three titles between 1989 and 1992. Van Meter presents a giant roadblock, though. The Bulldogs have stacked four consecutive shutouts and have allowed only 10 points in the past eight weeks. They routed Sigourney-Keota, 45-0, last week, churning out 323 rushing yards — 168 by Ben Gordon, who scored four touchdowns — and outgaining the Cobras, 372-90. Van Meter is in pursuit of its fifth finals appearance in the last six years.
No. 2 Williamsburg (11-0) vs. Dubuque Wahlert (9-2)
Class 2A Semifinal, 10 a.m. Saturday
In some fashion, Williamsburg will conclude its season in the UNI-Dome for the fourth time in the last six years. That run was highlighted (so far) by a runner-up finish in 2017. The Raiders have put the continuous clock to work in each of their last games, including a 35-0 win over Centerville last week, holding the Big Reds to 58 yards of total offense. Carson Huedepohl ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Wahlert is the only unranked team, in any class, to advance to the Dome. The Golden Eagles pulled a second-round shocker at No. 4 West Marshall, then whipped Crestwood at home in the quarterfinals, 41-6. Ryan Brosius ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass.
No. 2 Mount Vernon (11-0) vs. No. 6 Humboldt (10-1)
Class 3A Semifinal, 7 p.m. Saturday
How has Mount Vernon worked its way back into the ranks of the elite? The Mustangs have assembled a top-flight defense. The Mustangs have allowed just 5.4 points per game this season, and that was highlighted by a 17-0 blanking of archrival Solon in the quarterfinals. Mount Vernon picked up four takeaways and allowed only 2 second-half yards. First-year football guy Jensen Meeker was a major part of that effort, and also caught two long passes. Humboldt is in the semifinals for the second straight year after holding off Independence, 34-26. The Wildcats advanced despite giving up 441 yards of total offense, because Lance Coon rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and Corey Dettmann compiled 152 receiving yards and two TDs.
Other Iowa high school state football semifinals
No. 2 WACO (11-0) vs. No. 8 Newell-Fonda (10-1), 1 p.m.
No. 1 Remsen St. Mary’s (11-0) vs. No. 4 Lenox (11-0), 4 p.m.
Class A (Thursday)
No. 1 West Hancock (11-0) vs. No. 3 Lynnville-Sully (11-0), 10 a.m.
No. 2 Grundy Center (11-0) vs. No. 4 Woodbury Central (11-0), 1 p.m.
Class 4A (Thursday)
No. 1 Lewis Central (11-0) vs. No. 4 Carlisle (10-1), 4 p.m.
Class 1A (Friday)
No. 2 West Sioux (10-1) vs. No. 4 Underwood (11-0), 1 p.m.
Class 5A (Friday)
No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling (10-1) vs. No. 10 West Des Moines Valley (7-4), 4 p.m.
No. 4 Southeast Polk (10-1) vs. No. 6 Johnston (8-3), 7 p.m.
Class 2A (Saturday)
No. 1 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (11-0) vs. No. 5 Ida Grove OABCIG (10-1), 1 p.m.
Class 3A (Saturday)
No. 1 Harlan (10-1) vs. No. 3 Adel ADM (10-1), 4 p.m.