Prep Football

Iowa high school football playoffs: A closer look at area semifinal games

5 area teams remain, and Montezuma (8-Player) and Xavier (3A) play Thursday

Cedar Rapids Xavier quarterback Jaxon Rexroth (12) celebrates a touchdown with teammates Jack Goldsmith (13) and Jack Lu
Cedar Rapids Xavier quarterback Jaxon Rexroth (12) celebrates a touchdown with teammates Jack Goldsmith (13) and Jack Lux (36) in their 21-7 win over Grinnell last week. Xavier faces North Scott in a Class 3A semifinal at the UNI-Dome at 7:30 Thursday night. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Capsules for this week’s Gazette area Iowa high school football semifinal games, all in the UNI-Dome, Cedar Falls.

8-Player

No. 5 Montezuma (10-0) vs. No. 2 Remsen St. Mary’s (10-0), 9 a.m. Thursday

How they got here: Montezuma advanced with victories over Lone Tree, 54-14; BGM, 56-14; and No. 7 Easton Valley, 62-35. St. Mary’s advanced with wins over Ruthven GTRA, 56-14; West Harrison, 71-6; Harris-Lake Park, 53-13; and No. 3 Audubon, 42-27.

Key players: Montezuma QB Eddie Burgess has put up astronomical numbers all season, leading the class in total touchdowns (76), passing TDs (50), all-purpose yards (4,356) and passing yards (3,107). His key targets are Trey Shearer (1,247 receiving yards, 24 touchdowns) and Cole Watts (1,210 yards, 17 TDs). Jeremy Koenck has rushed for 1,017 yards and 17 touchdowns for St. Mary’s.

Outlook: The Braves make their second semifinal appearance and first since a Class 1A runner-up finish in 2006. This season marks Montezuma’s first playoff appearance since joining 8-player in 2018. Montezuma is third among 8-player teams, scoring 57.7 points per game. The Hawks are making their fifth semifinal appearance, winning a state title in 2004 and finishing second in 2017. Blaine Harpenau has reclaimed the reins the last three games, missing some time at quarterback this season. He has 790 passing yards and 11 TDs, adding 501 and 10 on the ground. St. Mary’s defense has forced 16 turnovers and allows a mere 12.7 points per game.

Next for the winner: Faces No. 1 Don Bosco (9-0) or No. 8 Fremont-Mills (7-1) for the 8-Player championship at 10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 19.

Class 3A

No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-0) vs. No. 8 North Scott (7-1), 7:30 p.m. Thursday

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How they got here: Xavier advanced with victories over Marion, 45-8; Dubuque Wahlert, 17-14; and Grinnell, 21-7. North Scott vanquished Mount Pleasant, 58-26; No. 5 Davenport Assumption, 13-10; and No. 9 West Delaware, 24-21.

Key players: Xavier quarterback Jaxon Rexroth has accounted for 32 touchdowns (12 passing, 20 rushing), running for three TDs against Grinnell. He also intercepted two passes last week. Jack Lux has run for 1,106 yards, and Jack Breitbach has 35 catches for 662 yards. North Scott has its own dual-threat QB in Carter Markham (846 passing yards, 679 on the ground and 16 total TDs). David Borchers has four fumble recoveries for the Lancers.

 

Outlook: The Lancers and Saints meet for the second straight postseason. North Scott defeated Xavier, 9-3, in a first-round playoff game at Eldridge last year. The Saints are making their ninth semifinal appearance and seventh since 2012, while the Lancers are making their semifinal debut. Xavier’s defense allows 12.4 points a game, giving up 220.8 yards per game holding foes to 95.4 passing. North Scott’s defense surrenders 11 points and about 272 yards a game.

Next for the winner: Faces No. 2 Harlan (10-0) or Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (8-2) for the 3A championship at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19.

Class A

No. 2 Iowa City Regina (9-1) vs. No. 3 Saint Ansgar (10-0), 9 a.m. Friday

How they got here: Regina advanced with victories over Wapello, 42-0; Alburnett, 28-7; and No. 8 Wapsie Valley, 32-27. Saint Ansgar’s victims were West Fork, 56-14; No. 7 South Winneshiek, 42-6; and No. 5 MFL MarMac, 49-14.

Key players: Regina’s QB-WR tandem of Ashton Cook and Alec Wick have put up big numbers for three years now. Cook has completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 2,286 yards and 22 touchdowns (against three interceptions), with Wick catching 57 aerials for 1,047 yards and 15 TDs. Theo Kolie gives the Regals a threat on the ground, with 1,316 rushing yards and 27 TDs. Saint Ansgar is all about the run, led by Ryan Cole (1,918 yards, 25 TDs) and two others above 600 yards.

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Next for the winner: Faces No. 1 Grundy Center (10-0) or Council Bluffs St. Albert (8-2) for the Class A championship at 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 19.

Class 1A

Class 1A: No. 3 Sigourney-Keota (10-0) vs. No. 1 Ida Grove OABCIG (10-0), 12:30 p.m. Saturday

How they got here: Sigourney-Keota advanced with wins over Cardinal, 49-0; Dyersville Beckman, 35-14; and No. 10 Waterloo Columbus, 35-32. Last year’s 2A champion, OABCIG romped past East Sac County, 49-7; Western Christian, 41-14; and No. 8 West Sioux, 63-13.

Key players: Sigourney-Keota runs about 88 percent of the time, and is led by Sam Sieren (175 carries, 14,75 yards, 24 touchdowns). Brady Duwa has intercepted five passes. Future Iowa Hawkeye Cooper DeJean leads the prolific Falcons, completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,718 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also has run for 1,089 yards and 21 TDs. Four receivers have at least 28 catches, led by Easton Harms (47 receptions, 742 yards, 10 TDs).

Next for the winner: Faces No. 2 Van Meter (10-0) or No. 7 South Central Calhoun (9-1) for the 1A championship at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Class 2A

No. 4 Waukon (8-1) vs. No. 1 Monroe PCM (10-0), 7:30 p.m. Saturday

How they got here: Waukon advanced with victories over Forest City, 56-14; Monticello, 46-14; and No. 6 Solon, 24-8. PCM triumphed over Saydel, 61-0, Greene County, 42-0; and No. 7 West Marshall, 21-20.

Key players: Waukon quarterback Creed Welch has 24 offensive touchdowns to his credit — 14 passing, 10 rushing — with 1,113 passing yards. Ethen O’Neill leads the ground game with 906 yards and 16 touchdowns. Lincoln Snitker is the top receiver and anchors the defense with 56.5 tackles and four interceptions. Ground-oriented PCM rushes for nearly 300 yards per game, led by Sage Burns (850 yards, 8.0 per carry, 16 TDs). Gatlin Boell (26 receptions, 572 yards, seven TDs) is the top receiver.

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Next for the winner: Faces No. 3 Central Lyon-GLR (10-0) or No. 9 Camanche (9-1) for the 2A championship at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

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