CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (12-0) vs. No. 4 Pella (11-1)
* When/Where — 7 p.m. Thursday, UNI-Dome
* How they got here — Xavier blitzed Solon with five first-half touchdowns and rolling to a 35-7 semifinal victory. Pella held for a 41-39 semifinal victory of Harlan, who stormed back from a 28-point halftime deficit.
* Overview — This is a rematch of last year’s semifinal that Pella won, 34-30, with a touchdown pass on the game’s final play. They will face each other at the UNI-Dome for the third time in five seasons with Pella winning the 2013 semifinal. Pella is attempting to win its fourth straight state title. The Saints reached their first championship since making back-to-back Class 4A finals in 2012-13. Xavier’s lone state title was in 2006. The game features two rush heavy attacks. Xavier averages 213.5 yards a game. Braden Stovie leads the Saints with 921 yards a game with QB Quinn Schulte not far behind at 872. Pella puts up 219.7 rushing yards a game. Reece Schnell has 837 and 17 TDs and Avery Van Zee adds 665 and 13 TDs on the ground for the Dutch. Pella has thrown for more yards, 1,682-1,191. Pella’s Ryan Gustafson has thrown for 1,664 yards and 16 TDs, including 22-514-13 going to Van Zee. Schulte has 1,115 passing yards, hitting Gabe Lux for a team-high 23 catches and 291 yards. The defenses have forced the same amount of turnovers. Each team has 14 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. Pella allows less than 14 points per game, while Xavier has held opponents to 8.25 per contest. The Saints allow just 182.3 yards a game. The Dutch defense gives up 241.8.
CLASS 1A CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 3 Iowa City Regina (10-2) vs. No. 2 Van Meter (12-0)
* When/Where — 11 a.m. Friday, UNI-Dome
* How they got here — Regina survived another challenge and held on for a 37-35 win over Pella Christian. Van Meter was impressive toppling No. 1 West Lyon, 35-21.
* Overview — Regina has reached its eighth straight title game, winning six consecutive crowns from 2010-15. The Regals sidestepped two upset bids thanks to defensive stands and missed field goals. A key matchup is Regina’s against the Van Meter defense. Regina has averaged 43.6 points in 10 games against 1A teams. Van Meter has allowed 6.3 points per game this season, forcing 21 turnovers and scoring two TDs including a fumble return in the semifinal victory. Regina is third in 1A with 4,898 total offensive yards, including 2,538 on the ground. Isaac Vollstedt leads the way for the Regals with 1,081 rushing yards and 17 TDs. Not to be outdone, Van Meter is tops in 1A offense, amassing 5,127 yards this season, including 2,026 rushing yards from Carson Rhodes, who has 22 scores. Van Meter averages 39 points a game.
CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 5 Waukon (11-1) vs. Williamsburg (10-2)
* When/Where — 2 p.m. Friday, UNI-Dome
* How they got here — Waukon handled top-ranked and defending champion Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, 36-19. Williamsburg used a strong second half to drop Union Community, 28-14.
* Overview — Both of these programs are looking for their first state title. Each has one previous finals appearance. Waukon was the 2A runner-up in 2013, while the Raiders were runner-up in 2002. Waukon fields a potent 1-2 punch in quarterback Abe Schwartz and multipurpose back Mitch Snitker. Schwartz has thrown for 2,202 yards and 22 TDs. Snitker has amassed 2,165 total yards and 32 TDs, including 1,864, which ranks second in 2A, and a class-high 26 TDs on the ground. He has accounted for 254 of Waukon’s 543 points this season, which is almost 100 points more than second in 2A. Williamsburg counters with running back Gage Hazen-Fabor, who leads 2A with 2,290 rushing yards. His 24 TDs are second to Snitker. Williamsburg has forced 11 turnovers in the postseason, owning a plus-9 turnover margin. Waukon leads 2A with 21 interceptions and is plus-2 the last three games.
CLASS 4A CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 1 Iowa City West (12-0) vs. No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling (11-1)
When/Where — 7 p.m. Friday, UNI-Dome
How they got here — West controlled the semifinal, blanking Bettendorf, 23-0. Dowling advanced to its fifth straight championship game, avenging a loss to Ankeny Centennial, 44-7.
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Overview — This marks the first time the 4A finals is a rematch from the previous year’s title game. Last year, Dowling won its unprecedented fourth straight 4A crown, beating West, 23-10. The Trojans are the last unbeaten team in 4A, scoring 41.6 and allowing 12.1 points per game. They have rolled in the postseason, getting a strong effort from a defense that has allowed 16 points in three playoff games and no more than nine in a game. West has playmaking QB Evan Flitz, who has thrown for 2,628 yards and 28 TDs and rushed for 561 and 10 scores. Wideout Traevis Buchanan has been the biggest target, catching 62 passes for 1,021 yards and 13 TDs. Senior running back Trumell Roberts has come on strong in the postseason, rushing for more than 100 yards and nearly half of his 846 season total in the three playoff games. Dowling boasts the third-best leading rusher in 4A in junior Jayson Murray. Running behind a big, physical line Murray has run for 1,790 yards and 26 scores. Maroons’ QB Blake Clark ranks among 4A leaders with 1,920 passing yards. He has thrown 26 TDs to just one interception. Sam Ingoli has added 815 receiving yards and 13 TDs over a Dowling offense that averages 47 points per game.
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