The adage states a high tide raises all boats.
Edgewood-Colesburg has enjoyed recent success, including state debuts in baseball and basketball. Now, the football program has made its own waves.
The Vikings have produced the best season in school history, recording a school-record 10 victories and adding another first to the athletics program. Class A fifth-ranked Ed-Co (10-1) takes on No. 3 Avoca AHSTW (11-0) in its first trip to the state semifinals Friday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, starting at 1 p.m.
The athletes responsible for the unprecedented achievement love what they do and have pride for who they represent.
“They have a passion for sports, a passion for what they do,” Ed-Co senior quarterback Ethan Streicher said. “It’s a reason for the success. They love playing sports and going to school. I think that’s important.”
Multiple-sport athletes have been an important part of the ascension. Four football players were on the baseball roster when the Vikings earned their only state berth in 2016, falling to 1A runner-up West Sioux in the quarterfinals.
In March, Ed-Co reached the state basketball tournament for the first time, losing to 1A runner-up North Linn in the quarterfinals. Seven football players competed on the basketball team.
Streicher, Preston Rochford and Spencer Staner have been a part of all three groundbreaking squads. Streicher also tied for seventh at the 1A state golf meet in May.
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“There’s no doubt there’s a good group of athletes, coming through,” Ed-Co head football coach James Rochford said. “They are also probably the most dedicated athletes in the weight room we’ve had and they believe in it.”
The football team qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time in school history and first since 2014. The Vikings posted its first winning season since going 6-3 in 2007. The 10-1 record is best since a 9-2 mark in 2006, which was the only other time Ed-Co played in the state quarterfinals.
“We had pretty big expectations coming into this season,” said Streicher, who has thrown for 1,076 yards and 17 TDs. “I think after the East Buchanan game (33-0 win in Week 3) we realized we can make some noise. We were like ‘Let’s get to work and keep working hard every day.’"
The Vikings dropped second-ranked Algona Garrigan last Friday to reach the coveted UNI-Dome. They did it at a cost. Preston Rochford, the leading rusher with 1,872 yards and 26 touchdowns and tackler with 86.5 stops, was hurt in the early moments of the game.
The team stuck together and gutted out a 6-0 victory, scoring on a 35-yard second-half TD pass from Streicher to Staner.
“More than anything, they showed they believed in each other,” said Coach Rochford, confirming Preston would not play against AHSTW. “They showed they could count on the next guy. It was pretty awesome. It’s fun to see that camaraderie.”
Coach Rochford said this group has a stronger bond than any other year. He noted that players hang out together, regardless of class. The relationships have an impact in competition.
"When you’re out there playing with your best friends, you’re going to do everything you possibly can to win it with or for your best friend,” Streicher said. “Everyone is counting on each other. The chemistry is flowing.”
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The Vikings have parlayed everything into a 10-game win streak after losing to 1A Bellevue in the opener. Ed-Co has averaged about 34.5 points and 367 yards per game. The defense has been impressive, allowing less than 11 points per game with three shutouts.
“They enjoy playing defense,” Coach Rochford said. “They enjoy hitting people and that’s a pleasure to watch.”
Ed-Co can add another first with a victory and extend the season. The Vikings are excited for the opportunity, but are business as usual until kickoff.
“I’ve seen a lot of games at the UNI-Dome, whether that be high school or Northern Iowa,” Streicher said. “It’s kind of a weird feeling that we’re going to be down there playing. It’s fun. I’m pumped.”
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