The City High football team can take solace in a bounce back season, but in the end, Cedar Rapids Xavier marches on.
The Little Hawks brought a lot of fight, but the Saints’ defensive line proved to be too much, winning 34-0 Monday night in a Class 4A second round playoff game at Xavier. The shutout was the seventh for the Saints’ stout defense.
“I think that’s the best defense I’ve ever played against,” City coach Dan Sabers said. “They’re just tough, so well coached. They run their defense, and they know it extremely well.”
Following a 4-6 season last year, 2013 saw the Little Hawks rattle off seven straight wins during the regular season, and this bout was more competitive than Xavier’s 48-10 route over City in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
“We had a smaller group (this season),” coach Sabers said. “We had a core group of about 15 guys that I’m going to remember forever for what they did. Some people bailed on us a little bit, and this group just remained determined.”
City High (8-3) came into the night hopeful, but star running back Xavier Washpun was frustrated all night. Led by Iowa recruit Matt Nelson on the defensive line, the Saints bottled up Washpun, who came into the night with 1,775 rushing yards.
“It was tough to find holes,” Washpun said. “Credit to their defense for watching film and doing their jobs out there.”
The Little Hawks hung tough in the first quarter. Mitch Wieland hit Jason Jones for 18 yards on City’s first play. The drive fizzled as Nelson dropped Wieland for a 7-yard sack.
The Saints (10-1) possess their own feature back in Brendan Miller, who entered the game with 1,188 rushing yards. The Little Hawks kept him in check early, forcing a three-and-out.
The Little Hawks found themselves lined up to punt during their second possession. Washpun, who took over punting duties for the injured Jake Leohr, tossed to Bryson Runge, who picked up 25 yards on a fake, to the Xavier 38.
City kept the drive going on third-and-9. Wieland faked a handoff and wheeled straight ahead for a 15-yard gain.
The Xavier defense stiffened again, and Drew Cornwell’s 45-yard field goal attempt narrowly missed wide left.
The Saints began to pick up steam as the first quarter came to a close. Keeping Miller contained, the Xavier back still was able to move the chains. The second quarter began with Quinton Scholer finding Frank Hill for a 12-yard connection to the City High 41.
Miller continued to gain confidence, picking up seven on a third-and-2 to the City 25.
Xavier found its way into the end zone as Scholer found Wesley Gardner on a quick slant for a 13-yard score with 8:17 left in the half.
Nelson continued to terrorize the Little Hawks, swatting a Wieland pass and registering his second sack to force another punt. Xavier took over at the City 45 for a crucial possession.
City had an opportunity to maintain a one-possession game on third-and-6 as Scholer hit Jay Kortemeyer with a screen. The play netted 6 yards, but Sabers was flagged for 15 yards as he tossed his hat onto the field because of a missed holding call. Xavier tacked on a 30-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead at the half.
City injected one last shot of hope out of the break, recovering an onside kick as the Little Hawk sideline jumped up and down with jubilation.
The excitement was short lived as Washpun was stopped on consecutive plays up the middle. Faced with third-and-long, Nelson again applied pressure to Wieland as Hunter Baldus caught him for a 10-yard sack.
Miller then went back to work. Emerging from a pile, Miller got loose for the first time, gaining 27 yards to the City 8. Miller scored from a yard out three plays later.
The Saints put the game out of reach on their next possession. Miller continued to wear the Little Hawks down 4 and 5 yards at a time. Looking for the run, Scholer connected on a 26-yard pass to Bryce Grimm and found Frank Hill for an 8-yard touchdown as the Saints took a commanding 24-0 lead with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
As tough of a night as it was for City, it did not diminish the highlights of a bounce-back season.
“We just worked hard during the offseason,” Washpun said. “It all paid off.”
CRX – Wesley Gardner 13 pass from Quinton Scholer (Ryan Persick kick).
CRX – Persick 30 FG.
CRX – Brendan Miller 1 run (Persick kick).
CRX – Frank Hill 8 pass from Scholer (Persick kick).
CRX – Persick 24 FG.
CRX – Christopher Ball 3 run (Persick kick).
|Total Nets Yards||130||272|
RUSHING – City High: Xavier Washpun 15-23, Bryson Runge 3-17, Mitch Wieland 7-minus-8, Bryce Frantz 3-11. Cedar Rapids Xavier: Brendan Miller 27-133, Quinton Scholer 4-16, Wesley Gardner 1-4, Jay Kortemeyer 5-29, Christopher Ball 4-20.
PASSING – City High: Wieland 5-17-87-0. Cedar Rapids Xavier: Scholer 7-11-70-0.
RECEIVING – City High: Jason Jones 3-76, Ivan Diaz 1-8, Bryson Runge 1-3. Cedar Rapids Xavier: Gardner 2-11, Frank Hill 2-20, Kortemeyer 1-6, Bryce Grimm 2-33.