116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s a long bus trip the English Valleys football team will take this coming Friday night. But you’ll hear no Bears complaining.
They get to make it, and that’s the main thing.
English Valleys beat Southeast Warren on the road Friday night in the first round of the 8-Player football playoffs, 36-15, the school’s first postseason win since 2000. As a reward, it’s that aforementioned journey of about 2 1/2 hours to fourth-ranked Easton Valley for a round-of-16 game.
“It would have been all right if they had sent us over to Montezuma or somewhere else out there. At least that’d be a shorter drive,” said EV Coach Mike Gerard. “But I said, you know, I don’t care who we face, we’ve got a chance. Our kids believe they’ve got a chance. As long as we get a chance to compete and show what we can do, that’s all you can ask for.”
Gerard knew he’d have a good team this season, since English Valleys returned a lot of players from 2020’s 7-2 club, one that provided the school with its first winning season since 2006. EV lost to WACO in Week 3 by a 38-13 score, but that’s been the only blemish.
WACO is unbeaten, ranked seventh and also still in the playoffs.
“We felt like we made some huge strides last year,” said Gerard, in his sixth season. “We knew that this senior class was very good. They have put the time and effort in all the way through, even through junior high. They started hitting the weight room then, they’ve continued that. One of the cool parts we really enjoy about these kids, and it started last year and the years before, they really enjoy being together and having fun together. I think that reflects on the field as to how we look.”
Running back Beau Flander has been EV’s best offensive player, a speed guy who is contemplating doing the track-and-field thing in college. He has 1,520 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns.
Gerard said his team has leaned on its defense as well. Three players (senior Ashton Moore and juniors Treyton Shaw and Luke Dillon) have recorded double-digit tackles for loss.
Against Southeast Warren, English Valleys gave up the first touchdown and trailed at halftime, 15-14. The second half was all Bears.
Flander finished with 283 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“We made some mistakes early … The second half we straightened some things out, got our heads in the game and really started playing,” Gerard said. “It’s really huge for our kids. Not only for football, but for all our sports. Getting the confidence that we can be up there competing with all the best schools in the state. That really is huge for us. Again, hopefully, that will reflect coming up in the next few years here where more and more kids want to play.”
Gerard said his team will need to be strong offensively on the ground in order to compete with a pass-heavy, high-octane Easton Valley offense. But at least they’ve got a chance to do that.
“Really we are going to have to establish our run game and manage to take some time off the clock,” he said. “Because they don’t need a lot of plays to score, that’s for sure. The big thing, for sure, is we’ve got to figure out how to slow down their passing game. I’m hoping our guys up front can get some pressure on the quarterback and kind of disrupt his timing a little bit, because I think that’s going to be the only way you slow those things.”
This and that
- WACO scored a late touchdown to rally past Edgewood-Colesburg, 39-36, in an 8-Player first-round thriller.
- Quarterback Gabe Kopriva threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns as North Tama edged Wapello, 23-20, in Class A.
- MFL MarMac had two guys rush for over 100 yards in an 18-13 win over Denver in Class 1A first-rounder. Gabe McGeough had 174 on 22 carries, Karter Decker 101 on just seven carries. The Bulldogs rushed for 362 yards as a team.
- Five Metro teams and seven from the Corridor have qualified for the playoffs. Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Washington are in the Class 4A playoffs. Linn-Mar, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Iowa City High are in them in 5A. Iowa City Regina won its 1A first-round game Friday and is in the round of 16. If you want to expand the Corridor thing, add Solon and Clear Creek Amana as playoff clubs, too
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