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Western Christian at West Lyon Football

West Lyon's Jaden Snyder, far left, talks with his teammates after a long rush against Western Christian during a high school football game in Inwood.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa | Iowa high school football has gone through a lot of change since Jay Rozeboom's first season leading West Lyon in 1992.

For the top-ranked Wildcats that has mattered little in route to four state titles under Rozeboom's guidance. While other teams have gone in different directions in search of success, the Wildcats have stayed true to what has worked for so many years, this one being no different.

West Lyon, making its 25th playoff appearance under Rozeboom, has put together one of its most dominating seasons in school history to this point with an 11-0 record, seven wins by shutout. It came as a product of the dedication in the offseason after a 2016 season that saw West Lyon lose three games, two to eventual state champion Western Christian.

"Some of the athletes were willing to move around from the positions they played in the past," Rozeboom said. "It made us a better team to try to get more speed on the field, and so these athletes have been selfless putting the team first.

"With all the spread offenses we just had to get more speed on the field."

The Wildcats have done it with a deep roster of players that can overwhelm an opponent over four quarters.

Quarterback Jaden Snyder has been a key as a three-year starter throwing for 1,282 yards, 21 touchdowns and just one interception. The brother of Iowa safety Brandon Snyder is second on the team in rushing with 579 yards and 11 TDs. He leads Class 1A completing nearly 68 percent of his passes.

"He came back with a lot of experience and he worked very hard in the offseason both physically and mentally and elevated his game," Rozeboom said. "Our line has done a great job of blocking, protecting him, and our receivers have done a great job of getting open and running after the catch."

Monte Pottebaum leads a deep group of runners with 816 yards and 17 touchdowns, but there are three other running backs with more than 200 yards on the ground while averaging at least 5.7 yards a carry.

That is at the heart of what the Wildcats, who scored at least 35 points in every game this season, have done under Rozeboom.

"Back when I started everybody ran split backs or I-formation and all you had was a scouting report and you didn't do any film exchange," he said. "Everybody did about the same thing, show up for a game and hope you are prepared. Now the change with technology you can go watch about any game a team has ever played.

"We tweak our system based on our athletes and we do that every year. Some years you can do more tweaking based on your athletes. Our defensive philosophy we have been a base 4-3 team for many, many, many years and had to adjust once and a while."

Defensively, Pottebaum leads the way with 52.5 tackles while Mitchell Rentschler has five quarterback sacks. Snyder has picked off four passes, Logan Meyer three and the Wildcats have recovered eight fumbles.

Through it all Rozeboom comes back to the fact that everything begins and ends with being able to get the job done on the line on both sides of the ball. That is something the Wildcats have done well having given up three points in two playoff games so far.

West Lyon's next challenge is a matchup with second-ranked Van Meter in a 1:06 p.m. state semifinal Saturday. Van Meter was a state semifinalist last season before bowing out to Western Christian.

The Bulldogs bring an imposing offense to the UNI-Dome led by running back Carson Rhodes, who has rushed for 1,939 yards and 22 touchdowns to sit second in Class 1A. Quarterback Blake Fryar has added 1,420 yards through the air with 22 TDs and four interceptions.

"They are one of the few teams that we have not played and wow they are really good," Rozeboom said. "(Rhodes) is a dynamic back, he runs hard, he sees the hole, and his line does a great job blocking for him.

"The quarterback makes great decisions about when to give him the ball and when to keep it himself. They have a lot of great receivers out there and the team is not one-dimensional and can hurt you in a lot of ways."

A tough challenge is all you can expect at this point according to Rozeboom and he is looking for his team to rise to the occasion.

"It is exciting time and we are ready to go to the dome, make some noise and play at a high level," Rozeboom said.


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