Prep Football

Cedar Falls claims district title with win at Cedar Rapids Prairie

Keegan Simmons breaks own school single-season rushing record in loss

CEDAR RAPIDS — Most teams don’t put together drives like that. Ones that are state championship quality do.

Cedar Falls pieced together a clutch 99-yard march late in the fourth quarter to score a touchdown that cemented its 28-14 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie in a tussle of Class 4A ranked clubs.

Make that 99-plus yards, actually. Prairie downed a punt inside the 1 with 6:14 left.

Seriously, the football appeared to just miss touching the goal line. About five minutes later, receiver Logan Wolf took a direct snap from center and ran around right end 28 yards to essentially end this high quality game and give CF a district championship.

“We needed that right there,” said Cedar Falls quarterback Cael Loecher. “We knew we needed to go on a big drive at the end of the game, and that’s just what we did. Great teamwork and got the job done.”

Loecher’s second-down, 20-yard lob over the middle to 6-foot-7 tight end Jackson Frericks moved the No. 3 Tigers (9-0) out of the shadow of their own end zone, from the 3 to the 23. Frericks went up over two much shorter Prairie defensive backs to haul in what was more or less a basketball rebound.

“They did a great job of pinning us, and we had to sneak it out,” said CF Coach Brad Remmert. “We talked on second down let’s go ahead and run a little play action on them. We were trusting our guys could step up and protect, and they did. Frericks made a nice catch. Let the tall guy be tall. He went up high, made the catch and got us out of a bad situation. You’re hoping just to flip the field there, but we were able to take it down and put points on the board, and that was a heck of a deal.”

“That was sort of a backbreaker,” said Prairie Coach Mark Bliss. “We’d used up most of our timeouts, then they chewed clock. We were hoping to pin them deep, maybe have them punt from their own end zone and give us half the field and we’d be able to tie it up. That was the plan, that was the strategy behind it. Didn’t turn out that way.”

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Loecher’s 1-yard sneak put CF on the scoreboard first late in the first quarter. His 26-yard TD pass to Wolf made it a 14-0 game midway through the second, and ninth-ranked Prairie (7-2) could never quite recover.

Keegan Simmons had 150 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Hawks, breaking his own school record for single-season rushing yards. He’s at 1,905 for a team that also will make the 4A playoffs.

Prairie had a shot at tying early in the fourth quarter, taking over possession at its own 38, but a holding penalty set the Hawks back and they had to punt. You know the rest of the story.

“I love our kids,” Bliss said. “They battled, and that’s all you can ask for, honestly. We competed hard, we just didn’t get any breaks tonight.”

The coach was upset by the untimely holding penalty, saying Cedar Falls held several times during the game but was not called. He also was upset by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on his team for a helmet-to-helmet hit that kept a second-quarter drive alive that CF eventually scored on.

“I’m being honest with you, that crew was absolutely horrible,” Bliss said. “I don’t care if that’s in the paper or not. I don’t know how they worked a state championship game last year. They were going to make sure they got what they wanted.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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