Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Xavier shakes off rust, rolls past Marion in 3A football postseason

Top-ranked Saints move on to round of 16 with 45-8 win

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier spent an unusual week idle.

The bye week could explain just a tinge of early rust, committing a couple uncharacteristic penalties and allowing a special teams touchdown in the opening quarter. Once the Saints warmed up, they were a well-oiled machine.

Top-ranked Xavier scored on all five possessions of the first half and cruised to a 45-8 victory over Marion in the second round of the Class 3A football playoffs Friday night at Saints Field. The Saints improved to 8-0 and should host another postseason game next week.

“I think you could say there was some rust from the bye week,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “Give Marion credit. They came and played hard. Our kids overcame the rust, so to speak, and did their job.”

Xavier was fueled by the run game, starting the game with 12 straight rushes before attempting its first pass. All nine plays of the first possession were on the ground. Jack Lux rushed eight times for 67 yards and Jaxon Rexroth capped the drive with the first of four rushing touchdowns. His 1-yard quarterback sneak produced a 7-0 lead.

“We felt we had to get back in the groove not playing for a week,” Schulte said. “We wanted to play solid and that’s what we tried to do with our guys tonight. For the most part, that’s what they did.”

Xavier ran the ball 34 out of 41 offensive snaps, amassing 273 rushing yards. A game plan that was welcome for a strong offensive line.

“Any type of straight-up blocking and just good football,” starting center Nick Tobin said. “I love it.”

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Of course, they have two big playmakers in the backfield. Rexroth and Lux both rushed for more than 130 yards and combined for three second-quarter TDs.

“I think it’s great,” Tobin said of Lux and Rexroth. “Our scout team helps us get prepared for the games and without them those holes wouldn’t be there.”

Rexroth’s 4-yard score opened the frame. Lux added a 5-yard TD, bouncing off a defender and getting to the outside to reach the end zone with 2:51 left before the break.

Marion fumbled the ensuing kickoff that the Saints recovered. On the next snap, Rexroth broke a 25-yard TD run for a 31-6 halftime lead.

Xavier’s Aiden Henry returned the opening kick of the second half 95 yards for a 38-6 advantage and Rexroth added a 72-yard TD run, enacting a running clock with 4:47 left in the third.

Rexroth tied a school record for rushing TDs in a game for the second time this season. He also ran for four scores against Grinnell. He also passed for 72 yards — all going to Jack Breitbach.

“Honestly, not really,” Rexroth said about the individual mark. “We’re just here to get team wins and keep moving on.”

Lucas Unsen provided some big plays for Marion. He scooped up a short kick off the turf and scooted 87 yards for a touchdown, pulling within 7-6 in the first quarter. He also surpassed 100 yards rushing, going for 102 on 16 carries.

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Marion bowed out at 3-5 after an adversity-filled season, including storm damage that forced it to play all home games at Linn-Mar. The Indians beat Clear Creek Amana last week for their first postseason victory since 2012.

“I’m really proud of them,” Marion Coach Tim Lovell said. “They had adversity all year. They had a no-quit attitude. It’s a testament to the leadership in the program.

“We’re really going to miss the senior class. They left a good legacy.”

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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