Prep Football

108-94! Remsen St. Mary's outscores Montezuma in wild 8-Player state football semifinal

Teams set state record for combined points scored in a game

CEDAR FALLS — Technology has enhanced sports in many ways.

But, not even the big, beautiful state-of-the-art scoreboards at the UNI-Dome could keep up with Remsen St. Mary’s and Montezuma.

By the time their game ended, the Hawks’ tally looked more like hieroglyphs than numerals. The scoreboard wasn’t meant to handle triple-digit scores. Yes, triple digits.

In an amazingly entertaining and wild, record-shattering game that lasted a tad more than four hours, second-ranked Remsen St. Mary’s outlasted No. 5 Montezuma for a 108-94 victory in Thursday’s 8-Player state football semifinals. The teams combined for 29 touchdowns and almost 1,500 yards of total offense, setting six single-game playoff records.

“It’s always cool to be part of history,” said Remsen St. Mary’s quarterback Blaine Harpenau, who finished with 488 total yards and eight TDs. “We were looking up at the scoreboard like we might have broken a record. We found out we did it and it was like crazy. We just kept on piling on points.”

Montezuma’s second semifinal trip was a memorable one but not in an ideal way. The Braves (10-1) took little solace in being part of a notable contest.

“It’s great to see the kids left it all out there,” Braves Coach Pat O’Brien said. “They compete to the final buzzer and that was obvious.

“We still have a lot of talent coming up, but, man, are we going to miss these seniors. They’re such a great group of kids. They’re selfless and understand that it’s about the team. This is going to be a tough one to swallow, but this was a good group.”

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They seemed content with their effort, doing just about everything possible to earn the program’s second finals berth and extend the successful season that ended 10-1.

“We played our hearts out,” Montezuma junior QB Eddie Burgess said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.

“We played well. I can’t really be mad about it. A couple of us getting hurt didn’t help. Credit to them. They kept us contained for some of the game.”

The first offensive play was an omen that this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill competition. Burgess looked to throw a quick pass when the ball slipped out of his hand, squirted around and was picked up by Jeremy Koenck at the 3 and returned for a touchdown.

The seesaw affair began with the teams combining for 49 first-quarter points and a 28-21 Braves lead. Burgess had two of his nine TD passes and two of his four TD runs in the first.

Consecutive touchdowns to close the second quarter allowed Montezuma to take a 46-36 halftime advantage. Cole Watts pulled in a 4-yard TD pass from Burgess, who added a 1-yard scoring plunge before the break.

Most of what they seemed to do turned to gold after that opening play.

“We were just feeling it,” Burgess said. “We were playing really well together. Good things happen when we’re on the same page.”

Burgess set a state single-game record with 689 passing yards. Montezuma’s 744 total passing yards also is a new state mark. Burgess has rewritten the season record book for scores and yards as well. Shearer hauled in a single-game record 20 receptions and finished with 389 receiving yards.

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“Eddie’s the best player in the state of Iowa, hands down,” O’Brien said. “When you have a kid like him and some tremendous athletes like Trey, Cole, Connor Van Zee and Kodie Strong. They just do a fantastic job of putting the ball in the right space to the right person. And, the offensive line protecting the pocket.”

The Braves defense started the second half strong, stopping the Hawks offense on three straight possession including a Watts interception. Burgess and Shearer connected on TD passes of 11 and 44 yards for a 60-36 lead. They teamed up for seven TDs.

“They have a sixth sense for each other,” O’Brien said. “They’ve play basketball with each other. It’s nice to have two guys that always know where each other are at. It’s a good connection to have.”

Things shifted Remsen St. Mary’s way. Burgess suffered a knee injury, making one of his team-high 12 stops and 3 1/2 tackles for loss with about seven minutes left in the third. Starting defensive end Brian Diaz left the game with a concussion and Burgess was relegated to offense as a pocket passer. He still managed to throw five TDs after the physical setback.

“He was playing hurt,” O’Brien said of Burgess. “He was still reading. He was still competing. He’s a tremendous young man.

“He had to come out because he couldn’t move well in space. He could plant and throw. After every throw you could see him grimace.”

The Hawks began to soar. Brenden Fisch scored on a 26-yard run. Remsen St. Mary’s recovered an onside kick that led to Koenck’s 24-yard TD catch. A fumble recovery was followed by a 4-yard score by Fisch. In less than 3:45, the Hawks’ deficit shrunk from 24 to just two.

The teams alternated TDs, tying the game at 74 apiece at the end of the third.

“We get to those moments and a lot of teams would just crumble and give up,” Harpenau said, “but we know we have faith in that we will be able to come back and no game is out of reach for us.”

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The Hawks (11-0) had only led for 1:47 when they took the lead on another 4-yard TD run by Fisch and stayed ahead the final 9:56. They hit the century mark when Alex Schroeder picked off a pass and returned it 35 yards for a score.

“We did our best to keep that momentum on our side,” Shearer said. “We battled. We traded touchdowns forever. That third quarter was a track meet, but eventually they did get the best of us in that quarter.

“We played our hearts out. Everyone contributed. Everyone stepped up when they needed to. It was just a fun game.”

Remsen St. Mary’s will advance to the finals against No. 8 Fremont-Mills (8-1). The Knights knocked off defending state champ and top-ranked Don Bosco, 32-30.

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

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