MARION — Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Duane Schulte dodged a drenching with water in the waning moments of the Saints’ regular-season finale.
His assistant coaches Jim O’Connell and Nick Garland weren’t so lucky.
“They just skimmed me,” Schulte said. “I think they sent the wrong guy to douse me. They got Coach O’Connell and Coach Garland better.”
The miss during the celebration was one of the Saints’ few mistakes Friday night, while clinching a district title, a 22nd straight victory and 36th consecutive regular-season win. Top-ranked Xavier pounced on early mistakes and steamrolled Marion, 51-0, to secure the Class 3A District 4 prep football crown at Thomas Park.
The defending state champion Saints (9-0, 5-0) will now turn their attention to the postseason, hosting a first-round game next Friday.
“We’re just trying to get better every day,” senior lineman Kyle Krezek said. “We’re just going to keep doing the same thing. We’re going to do it better and keep working hard. We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
The game couldn’t have started much better for the Saints or much worse for the Indians. On the opening kickoff, two Marion returners misplayed the kick in play and mistakenly downed it in the end zone for a safety.
Xavier proceeded to score on its first three possessions, driving 79 yards on eight plays after the free kick. Quinn Schulte scored on a 3-yard run for a 9-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
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“We were able to make a play on that kickoff,” Quinn Schulte said. “We just try to get our (offensive) line off early and develop a surge.”
The Saints lived in Marion territory in the first half, building a 44-0 advantage before the break. The Saints started five straight possessions on Marion’s side of the field, scoring touchdowns on four of them. For the entire game, Xavier started eight drives in the opponent’s territory.
“It’s a huge advantage,” the elder Schulte said. “If you can get to that situation where you don’t have to put together 15, 16 or 17 play drives. If you can make it eight or less to get a score, that’s a big deal.”
Two of those short fields were gifts, taking over at the Marion 34 after a stopped fake punt and the Marion 13 on a botched punt snap. Xavier turned converted those mistakes into a Schulte 9-yard TD run and a 13-yard scoring strike from Schulte to Kyle Moeder, making it 23-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Saints rushed for 222 yards, including 116 from Braden Stovie, who had a 6-yard TD run in the 21-point second quarter. Aaron Larson added a 5-yard TD run and Derrick Skala caught a 2-yard score from Schulte before the break.
Xavier defense finished the regular season, allowing 28 points the entire season and only six in district play. The Saints posted their third straight shutout and fourth in the last five games. Marion managed just 38 total yards aand three first downs.
“We have a goal every week to do the best we can,” Krezek said. “We don’t want them to score.”
Despite the early miscues, injuries haunted the Indians as well. Starting quarterback Trevor Paulsen and his backup Gage Franck both left the contest due to injury. Marion ends the season 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the district.
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