116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Road warriors. Repeat spoilers. Decorah captured the attention of many high school football fans Friday night.
The Vikings scored in the final 30 seconds to beat defending state champion and top-ranked North Scott, 14-10, in a Class 4A first-round playoff game at Eldridge. They snapped the Lancers’ 21-game win streak, advancing to the state quarterfinals next Friday.
“The guys and coaches were pretty happy, pretty ecstatic for a while,” Decorah coach Pat Trewin said. “We knew how hard it would be. They’re a super-quality ball club. We knew we’d have to play pretty well to get it done.”
The Vikings didn’t shy away from underdog talk. They even reflected on the program’s big victories in the past, bringing in former players and coaches to talk to the team this week. Trewin noted previous victories over Marion in 2009, Clear Lake and West Delaware en route in the state runner-up finish in 2011 and Cedar Rapids Xavier in 2015.
Trewin said the Vikings always expect to win, even if others don’t give them a chance.
“It’s you versus the world,” Trewin said. “It’s just your band of people and you have the opposing crowd that is hostile. It’s something to soak up instead of fear.
“We talk about being underdogs in a lot of games, or just having an underdog mentality. If you don’t fight like you’re the underdog and think you’re better than the other team you can let your guard down. We’ve been the underdog and won some big ball games throughout Decorah history,”
The game teetered on the Vikings’ late drive that was set up by Joseph Bockman’s interception at midfield with 4:15 remaining. Decorah drove 50 yards on 13 plays, including two crucial fourth-and-1 plays. Ben Wymer converted the first on a toss sweep with about three minutes left. Quarterback Keenan Tyler’s sneak was good for a first down inside the Lancers’ 30 with less than 90 seconds to go.
Tyler connected with Noah Storts on a 6-yard slip pass out the backside, taking a 14-10 lead with 26 ticks on the clock.
“We knew we would have to try and ware them down and see if we could catch them off-guard,” Trewin said. “We got just enough forward lean late. We found a few creases and gave the ball to a few other backs. They were able to fall forward for the first downs. Then, Keenan hit Noah at the end and I think we had another key completion during the drive, but a lot of it was running the ball.”
The run game was key. The goal was to run the ball, extend drives and control the time of possession. The Vikings were able to execute that well enough for the victory.
“Offensively, we were really determined to run the ball and possess the ball,” Trewin said. “We did. We possessed it for quite a long time in the game compared to what’s been going on lately.”
Tyler played a big part. He passed for 123 yards with two touchdowns, including a score to Bockman for the Vikings’ first points. Tyler also rushed for 103. He has grown a lot to understand the scheme and others’ roles.
It helped Decorah rush for 208 yards and one of their best performances this season thanks to the line, blocking backs and H-back, according to Trewin.
“He’s very key and influential. He plays a very important role,” Trewin said. “I really think it was very much a team game. The numbers went Keenan’s way.”
Defensively, Decorah limited North Scott to two scores. The Vikings also forced four turnovers, including a fumble recovery by Ryan Johanningmeier in the final seconds to seal the victory. Tyler also had a fumble recovery and interception.
“We really mixed things up on defense,” Trewin said. “Gave their quarterback and coaches a variety of looks, so they weren’t looking at the same thing all the time, blitzing, different coverage and different fronts trying to keep them off balance. They were able to do that.”
After the long road trip to Eldridge, Decorah is rewarded with a 4-hour, 2-minute drive and 238-mile trek to seventh-ranked Winterset (8-2). Trewin noted than Decorah athletes are used to it, traveling multiple hours for regular-season competitions in various sports.
“It gives you a chance to concentrate and focus,” Trewin said. “Sometimes going on the road, by default, you’re preparing on the way down, keeping it somewhat quiet. I think there is that benefit.”
MFL MarMac drops Regina
MFL MarMac snapped a win streak as well Friday night. The Bulldogs upended defending state champion and third-ranked Iowa City Regina, 21-7, in a Class 1A second-round playoff game at Regina. The victory ended the Regals’ 20-game win streak.
“People can say it’s an upset,” junior wing back Karter Decker told Gazette correspondent Ryan Pleggenkuhle after the game. “We felt all week that we could win this game. We didn’t consider ourselves underdogs.”
Decker scored on a 37-yard TD pass from Carver Blietz-Bentien and rushed for a 22-yard score. Cullen McShane also had a 22-yard TD run, helping the Bulldogs to a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs (8-2) defense held Regina to a season-low in points.
“Best I’ve ever seen our defense play,” Bulldogs Coach Dan Anderson said. “We told our guys, ‘we’re going to bring some heat.’ We drilled all week about the zone-read.”
The quarterfinal game will be at No. 6 Dyersville Beckman (10-0). The Blazers won, 41-7, in the regular season.
“We’re going to have to play clean football like we did tonight,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have any turnovers tonight, against Beckman we had four, and all of them led to 28 points.”
Damon Weber powers Kee
Quarterback Damon Weber propelled ninth-ranked Lansing Kee to a 42-40 victory over host Turkey Valley in an 8-Player second-round playoff game Friday night. Weber amassed 365 total yards and six touchdowns, including 299 and five through the air.
Dalton Dibert and Tyson Cota both surpassed 100 receiving yards. Dibert finished with 157 yards on 15 catches. He hauled in two TD passes, including a 37-yarder. Cota had 133 on nine receptions, grabbing three TDs with a long of 31.
Weber also had a 2-yard TD run.
Kee improved to 9-1 and faces No. 4 Easton Valley (10-0) in the quarterfinals. The River Hawks beat Kee, 51-46, on Oct. 15.