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.”