CEDAR FALLS, Iowa | With plenty of former players sitting in the stands watching, West Sioux completed its journey to the top of the football mountain.
The top-ranked Falcons had come close to playing for a state title during their run of five straight playoff berths, but it took a record-breaking group to complete the task.
West Sioux used a big second half from senior running back Jake Lynott and a defense that came up with key turnovers to win the school's first football title with a 35-14 victory over No. 2 Hudson in the Class A championship game at the UNI-Dome Thursday.
"My freshman year those seniors like my cousin Justin (Negaard), Porter (Hummel) and Kezden (Blankenship) we went undefeated until we lost to Akron-Westfield to go to state," West Sioux junior Chase Koopmans said. "They were all out here today and that has got to feel great for them to see this."
"My assistants and I were talking about that this morning at breakfast and it is bittersweet a little because we had those guys like Porter Hummel and Justin Negaard, Kezden Blankenship a couple of years ago," West Sioux Coach Ryan Schwiesow said. "We wanted to get it for those guys but they laid the foundation for it."
West Sioux, which finished 13-0, set the 11-man state record for points scored in a 13-game season with 721 thanks to an offense that could produce in a myriad of ways. The Falcons outgained the Pirates 451-266 on Thursday putting it on display.
"It is an awesome feeling for the kids, the fans and the coaches," Schwiesow said. "For this team to do it there is no other group that has worked harder than this team.
"You play good football and have good kids and great talent records are going to be broken."
The Falcons were finally able to break through the quarterfinal round after suffering setbacks each of the past two seasons.
"We earned every yard we got today and I am just so proud of the kids for persevering and playing and playing and playing," Schwiesow said.
Lynott scored on a 59-yard run to cap the Falcons' first drive after halftime to increase the lead to 21-0. However, Hudson (12-1) would not go quietly as Alex Staebel got his team on the board with a 34-yard touchdown run.
That was followed by more Lynott. This time on a 29-yard score on his way to a 183-yard day to close out his impressive senior season with 2,619 yards rushing.
"Second half was a lot of workload but our team put in a lot of effort," said Lynott, who ran for 147 yards after halftime. "Probably the most physical game we played this season, but it is the ultimate goal and what we have been working for since the offseason.
"I have a lot of confidence in our offensive line and in the first half we used a lot of our other skill people. In the second half the offensive line picked it up a ton and got me to the second, third level and from there it is pretty easy."
Hudson would use a 40-yard completion to set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Christian Seres to pull within 28-14 with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
That is all the West Sioux defense would allow as Trevor Schuller had an interception to end one fourth-quarter drive for the Pirates, and Austin Barrera ended another with a fumble recovery.
Lynott would cap his impressive game with a 47-yard touchdown reception from Hunter Dekkers on a third-and 13 to complete the scoring.
West Sioux took a 14-0 lead into halftime, but was its own worst enemy in the first half committing six penalties. Two of those flags brought back long gains for the Falcons.
The Falcons finished the game by tying the Class A title game record with 11 penalties and set a new mark for penalties yardage with 95. The old record was set by Paton-Churdan in 1985.
West Sioux opened the scoring when Dekkers hit Victor Hernandez for a 26-yard strike on third-and-9 to put the Falcons up 7-0.
Lynott looked to score a 51-yard TD on a reception on the first play of the Falcons' next drive but it was called back for an ineligible player down field. After another penalty, Dekkers connected with Koopmans for a 61-yard touchdown as Koopmans threw his defender off as he tried to tackle and raced into the end zone.
The Koopmans touchdown gave West Sioux 700 points thus securing the scoring record. Koopmans finished the game with 10 receptions for 145 yards setting a new Class A championship game record for receptions with back-to-back catches in the third quarter. The previous record was seven catches held by three players.
"It is great but it is not like we did anything special we did us," said Koopmans of the record. "I was open sometimes so Hunter hit me and it was great."
The Pirates, who have won a pair of state titles in their history in 1975 and 1994, moved the ball well their first two drives, but Barrera ended the first possession with an interception of Jacob Murray at the 15-yard line.
"It was a really big change in momentum and Barrera is a really good safety because he goes out there and hits," Lynott said. "He plays really great coverage and it was a momentum shifter."
Hudson tried to get on the board later in the first quarter but the Falcons were able to block a 29-yard field goal attempt.
West Sioux will lose several key seniors but the cupboard is hardly bare led by the return of Koopmans and the sophomore quarterback Dekkers. He threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns to finish his season with 2,397 yards and 33 touchdowns.