CEDAR FALLS, Iowa | It’s time to take the greatest show on grass and see what it can do on the turf.
The highest scoring team remaining in the postseason finally cleared the hurdle that is the quarterfinal round and is ready to see what its high-powered offense can do in the UNI-Dome.
“It was one of our major goals for this year,” Falcons Coach Ryan Schwiesow said. “Obviously, we have another one left. For the kids, the community, myself and the coaches included it was a big hurdle for us and it was something we are darn glad we got over it.”
West Sioux has reached the playoffs every season since 2013 when it lost in the first round. That was followed by a second-round exit in 2014 and a quarterfinal appearance in 2015. Last season the Falcons again fell in the quarterfinals, to Council Bluff St. Albert 21-14.
With West Sioux averaging 57.4 points a game – second-highest this season statewide – it gets another shot at St. Albert, this time in the state semis.
“It was one of those deals where it was just kind of a tossup and we ended up giving up a pick-6 for a touchdown,” Schwiesow said. “We want to get a little revenge on them, but we haven’t looked to the point where it is just St. Albert. It is a team we want to beat that is standing in the way of winning our ultimate goal of winning a state championship.”
The West Sioux offensive engine is senior running back Jake Lynott who is second in the state in rushing with 2,273 yards and 33 touchdowns. He leads the way in rushing in Class A with the next closest player more than 500 yards behind. In the team’s two playoff wins against Sioux Central and West Hancock, Lynott has run for 425 yards and eight TDs.
“He is fast on a frozen field in Northwest Iowa and we are really looking forward to seeing just how quick he is when he gets on the turf as well,” Schwiesow said.
Sophomore quarterback Hunter Dekkers, a first cousin to Jake and Kade Lynott, has had a strong season leading his team. He has thrown for 1,811 yards, 28 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“Hunter has gotten more confident as the year goes on and he has been in a couple of big playoff games now,” Schwiesow said. “He played a lot in the St. Albert game last year and he played a lot in the South O’Brien game when Jake got hurt so he has been battle-tested as a freshman.”
Dekkers has plenty of big-play targets in Chase Koopmans, who leads the team with 688 receiving yards, as well as Victor Hernandez and his eight touchdowns to go along with Jake Lynott.
West Sioux enters this game with the confidence of overpowering every team it has played this season. It saw that Le Mars Gehlen and Westwood both made the postseason out of its district, with the Jays posting a first-round upset over Southwest Valley.
“We are confident but I wouldn’t say we are overconfident,” Schwiesow said. “We haven’t been on the turf yet in the dome so it is a new experience for us and it is something we are really looking forward to.”
Schwiesow hopes that his team’s games against Gehlen and Akron-Westfield will serve it well as it prepares to play a strong passing team Friday at 1:06 p.m.
St. Albert is led by quarterback Kyle Barnes who has thrown for 1,561 yards, 25 touchdowns and three interceptions. The fifth-ranked team is in the postseason for the 28th time and back in the dome for the 12th time.
“They mirror us in a lot of things they do because they spread it out and they spread it out to run it,” Schwiesow said. “They have a really good quarterback who throws the ball well and have a lot of speed on the perimeter.”
St. Albert has four running backs that have rushed for at least 200 yards and receiver Tyler Blaha has 553 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
Both teams possess big offensive lines with West Sioux’s having multiple linemen playing since their freshman season.
“A lot of our kids have been starting for three or four years and it has paid off,” Schwiesow said.
With West Sioux now in the semifinals the message won’t change from its head coach.
“We tell the kids every week to go have fun,” Schwiesow said. “Play loose, play to make plays, don’t play tight. You are playing to win, you are not playing not to lose.”
AMES – Iowa State football’s current senior class has faced a lot of adversity. It’s gone through everything from a two-win season to 50-point losses, to a coaching change after its sophomore year – the seniors have been through it all.
And they’re better because of it.
Saturday is No. 21 Iowa State’s senior day where 19 seniors will be honored before the game against No. 11 Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. in Jack Trice Stadium.
“It’ll be emotional on Saturday for me just because I know it’s hard to create change in our society, it’s hard to create change period,” coach Matt Campbell said. “These 19 young men, they’ve created change. We wouldn’t be here without them.
“Every single one of them has a story, every single one of them has had a profound impact on why we’re improving and getting better and why we’ve been able to stay the course through the good and through the tough. We owe so much to those guys.”
Three of those 19 seniors all grew up within a 20-mile radius of each other and they played a major role on the change.
Receiver Allen Lazard came in as the most highly touted recruit in Iowa State history. He was expected to break records and be a leader of the offense. He has.
Linebacker Joel Lanning was a dual-threat high school quarterback with a cannon for an arm and the body of a linebacker. He switched from quarterback to linebacker before his senior season, putting the team before himself and becoming selflessness incarnate.
Offensive lineman Jake Campos was coming out of high school, but he had the frame to put on weight and the skill to be something special. He endured injuries, including a broken leg last season, and came back better than he was beore.
“We were all on the offense together,” Campos said. “I was protecting Joel and Joel was throwing to Allen so it was really special to see all three of us do as well as we have – it’s absolutely awesome.”
While these three have been successful throughout their time at Iowa State, the team hasn’t.
“Coming from Valley, I think I had six losses throughout high school, and then I came here and had a two-win season,” Campos said. “It’s really humbling and it teaches you how to deal with adversity and how to push through it.”
And they did.
Iowa State could’ve crumbled after the coaching change. It was tough because they were all young.
“The coaching change was one of those deals where either we come together or it’s going to be a bad deal,” Lanning said. “I had never been through it and I was kind of a veteran guy at the time as a redshirt sophomore. We have to stick together or thing things is going to get even worse than it has been. We all stuck together and bought into what coach Campbell said. We never looked back, honestly.”
Now, the Cyclones are having one of the best seasons in school history. They have two top-5 wins and have a legitimate shot at making the Big 12 Championship game.
It makes all the adversity, all the losses and all the injuries worth it.
“It’s an incredible group of seniors,” defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “I’ve been doing this for quite a while and transition is very difficult for everyone. This group has done a great job of taking change by the horns and really becoming the voice of the locker room. They run the team, they know what’s expected, they lead by example, they handle situations. I’ve been nothing but impressed by them.
“They made my job a lot of fun – I love this group. I go in every day and I can’t even think about being down, tired, anything. When you’re around those guys, they’re just incredible. I love this group. It’s one of the best senior groups I’ve been around in all my years.”
Allen, you hold virtually every receiving record in Iowa State history, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
“This year is the thing I’m most proud of,” Lazard said.
LINCOLN | The top-ranked (C2) and top-seeded Hartington Cedar Catholic volleyball team swept eighth-seeded Southern Valley 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 in the opening round of the Nebraska State tournament here Thursday.
Jada Cattau finished with 11 kills and 14 digs for the Trojans (33-0). Madison Wieseler dished out 19 assists and added 11 kills. Ashley Hamilton notched 17 assists and Madalyn Arens tallied 20 digs.
Lauryn Samuelson registered eight kills for Southern Valley (26-6).
Cedar Catholic, in its second-straight state tournament appearance, plays third-ranked Stanton (31-3) in the state semifinals. HCC defeated Stanton, the defending state champions, 19-25, 25-22, 26-24 on Sept. 16 at the Stanton Invitational.
Cedar Catholic, the Mid-States Conference champion, is in its ninth state tournament in school history.