CEDAR FALLS — It’s suburban Des Moines’ football world in Class 4A. Everyone else is just living in it.
You’re guaranteed a West Des Moines champion after Dowling whupped Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 42-6, in the back half of a Friday semifinal doubleheader at the UNI-Dome.
The Maroons (11-1) are six-time defending 4A champs. Their loss this season was to West Des Moines Valley (12-0), which they will play again in next week’s finals here.
Valley torched Bettendorf, 35-7, in Friday’s first semi. Dowling, Valley and Ankeny will have combined to win the last 10 4A titles.
This is the second year the Iowa High School Athletic Association has used RPI to determine semifinal seeds, which is why you get this West Des Moines championship for the very first time. Prior to that, playoff pairings came geographically, meaning you had always had a Central Iowa-Eastern Iowa final.
With Eastern Iowa taking a lot of beatings this past decade.
“The state has to figure out how to compete with Valley and Dowling,” said Kennedy Coach Brian White, whose Cougars lost to Dowling, 41-10, in the 2015 finals. “Those are the two teams that are the litmus of everything ... It’s the same thing in the NFL with the New England Patriots, the same thing in college football with Alabama. They are the Patriots and the Alabamas, and we’ve got to figure it out.
“You can talk about resources and all that. But the bottom line is they have 16, 17, 18-year olds. How do we get our 16, 17, 18-year-olds to play like theirs? How do we match them? There is no easy answer for that. We are all searching for the answer to that.”
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Kennedy (10-2), which lost to Valley in the regular season, 28-14, played this game without all-state offensive lineman Nolan Jacobs, a North Dakota State commit who tore a labrum in his shoulder in last week’s quarterfinal win over Urbandale. But he would not have made a difference in the winner here.
Dowling owned the line of scrimmage on both sides, building a 28-0 halftime lead and getting the continuous clock running midway through the third. University of Iowa commit Gavin Williams had 139 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Maroons on just 10 carries, with Teagan Johnson adding 95 yards rushing and two TDs, again on just 10 carries.
“We gave it our all,” said Kennedy’s Brandtley Koske. “It wasn’t a lack of effort. Heads are held high. We laid it all out on the field."
Kennedy’s offense was almost exclusively run this season, with the Cougars leading 4A in rushing. But when Dowling stopped that, the Cougars effectively were done.
Max White’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Reid Pakkebier in the fourth quarter was the only Kennedy completion of the game. Kennedy finished with just 116 rushing yards on 41 attempts.
“It boiled down to their D-line stomped us,” Coach White said. “That’s the bottom line. Teams that have fantastic D-lines, they win. And theirs dominated the game from the get go.”
“They did a lot of twisting, and we didn’t see that on film,” Max White said. “We’re obviously a running team that wants to punch you in the mouth. But when they’re dancing and twirling, it’s hard to put a hat on them. A pretty good idea by them.”
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