Xavier football team seeks redemption in state semifinals

HS journalism: Last year's semifinal loss left a sour taste

Benton Community quarterback Spencer Touro fumbles the ball under pressure from Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Beau Van Berkum during a game earlier this season. Van Berkum is one of four captains hoping to get the Saints over the semifinal hump tonight. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Xavier football team is set on redemption in the Class 3A state football playoffs.

Xavier finished the regular season 9-0 and took down Oskaloosa, 44-10, in the first round. Junior quarterback Quinn Schulte and junior running back Braden Stovie led the team offensively, combining for more than 300 rushing yards and scoring five touchdowns.

In the quarterfinals, Xavier hosted Davenport Assumption on Nov. 3 and, although the Knights went head-to-head with the Saints in the first half, they fell victim to the explosive run game and resilient defense the Saints are known for in the second half.

With the 44-21 victory over Assumption, Xavier advanced to tonight’s semifinals against Solon inside the UNI-Dome.

A return to the Dome has been the goal for the returning players. The Saints were beaten on the last play of the game by Pella in last year’s semifinal game, 34-30. That result left a sour taste in the mouths of the juniors and sophomores who took part in last year’s campaign.

“The loss served as a constant motivator, knowing how close we came last year,” senior Justin Schneider said.

Senior captains Jacob Hines, Jack Lemke, Gabe Lux and Beau Van Berkum look to lead this year’s team to a state championship. Lemke, who started as a linebacker his junior year, believes the team has all the tools it needs to capture Xavier’s first state football title since 2006.

“We worked hard all season to get to this point, and I believe this group of guys can go all the way this year,” Lemke said.

Kickoff in the UNI-Dome is set for 8:21 p.m.