Prep Football

Waukon wins the Class 2A state football championship

Creed Welch returns after semifinal injury, leads Indians past Central Lyon-GLR, 28-14

CEDAR FALLS — Creed Welch never had a doubt. He was going to play.

And he was going to be on the field at the end. No way he was going to miss all of the fun.

“I wasn’t going to sit out,” he said. “No way.”

After five days of physical therapy, a knee brace, then a light workout, Welch put his fingerprints all over the Class 2A state championship football game.

He passed for 169 yards and a touchdown, and intercepted three passes to lead fourth-ranked Waukon past No. 3 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, 28-14, Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome.

“I wasn’t planning on using him on defense,” Waukon Coach Chad Beermann said. “I don’t really know how he got out there.”

Here’s how:

“I just like to play football,” Welch said.

Waukon (10-1) won its 10th consecutive game and claimed its second state championship.

The Indians went all the way in 2017, reached the semifinals in 2018, then lost in last year’s final. No denying them this time.

“My brother (Michael Sweeney) was on the 2017 team, and I told him I was going to win one too,” said Brennan Sweeney, whose heads-up play turned a lateral pass by Lions QB Zach Lutmer into a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown to start the scoring.

Welch’s left leg was injured — both knee and ankle — in the second quarter of Saturday’s semifinal win over Monroe PCM.

“I was laying pretty low most of the week,” he said. “I didn’t do much. Last Sunday, I was checked by the doctor, then it was physical therapy Monday and Tuesday.

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“I got a brace for my knee Tuesday, and I was able to come back to practice by Thursday.”

Beermann said, “We put him through some motions Wednesday and Thursday, and he split the reps at quarterback Thursday with Sean (Cooper).”

Waukon led 16-14 at halftime, thanks to Sweeney’s unlikely score, a 7-yard touchdown run by Pat Hennessy and a pair of two-point runs by Ethan O’Neill. That offset a pair of TD runs by Lutmer, a very talented sophomore QB for CL-GLR (11-1).

The second half belonged to the Indians, and it started with Welch’s arm.

Lined up on the left side of the formation, Welch took a handoff and heaved a bomb to Braxton Stewart, who completed a 56-yard scoring play to extend Waukon’s advantage to 22-14.

“We did that in the semifinals my sophomore year here,” Welch said. “We put it in last week, but didn’t get a chance to run it. Braxton came through clutch.”

Central Lyon-GLR didn’t drive inside the Waukon 35 in the second half, and Welch killed two Lions drives with interceptions. After one, he re-tweaked his knee and missed most of a series before returning.

He wasn’t going to miss those glorious final minutes.

After Welch’s final pick, the Indians drove 58 yards in eight plays, clinching the outcome with a 6-yard touchdown run by O’Neill with 1:39 left.

“This is insane,” said O’Neill, who ran for 106 yards. “We’ve worked for this for four years. It started in the weight room when we were freshmen.

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“(CL-GLR) is a tough team, but the conditioning we do ... it allows us to be dominant at the end of the game.”

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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