It’s finally here. The two days high school football fans have been waiting for since mid-August have arrived in Cedar Falls.
From today until Friday evening, seven national champions will be crowned in the UNI Dome. Today we have three games in the program and six teams fight for their right to claim the throne on their class football mountain.
We start our full day of football bright and early at 9:30 am with the 8-man state final. Two unbeaten teams collide this morning as WACO takes the field to battle No. 1 Remsen St. Mary’s in an unbeaten battle. It’s No. 3 WACO’s first trip to the State Title Game.
More:WACO stops Newell-Fonda from securing a berth in the Iowa 8-Player State Championship Football Game
Follow here as we bring you the latest updates from each game as they happen. If you can’t make it to Cedar Falls for any of the games, you can stream all three games thanks to the Iowa High School Sports Network by clicking here.
HALFTIME: St. Mary’s 24-3 WACO
St Mary’s will get the ball to start the second half hoping to extend their lead.
WACO joins the board
After the first big game of the day for the Warriors, a 34-yard catch by Oleh Stefanchuk, WACO finally got on the board. They couldn’t find the end zone, but they got three points thanks to a 48-yard field goal from Simeon Reichenbach.
St. Mary’s are up 24-3 late in the half.
St. Mary’s Defense is making it big again
The WACO offense was finally gaining momentum, driving inside the St. Mary’s 10 yard line and in prime position to score. But then a Ryan Willman hit knocked the ball out of the arms of a WACO rusher. The Hawks recovered it at their own 3 yard line and are heading the other way.
St. Mary’s is still 24-0 up
St. Mary’s convert blocked punt to TD
The defense of St. Mary’s has been overwhelming so far today. They forced a three-and-out, a fumble, a turnover on downs, and now a blocked punt. Collin Homan broke the line and got his hands on the punt, which fell squarely on Braxton Kniep at the WACO 8-yard line.
Two games later, the Hawks found the endzone in a six-yard hit from Cael Ortmann to Brenden Fisch. They failed at the 2-point conversion but still lead 24-0 at the start of the second.
WACO turns it around, sets up St. Mary’s in the best position
Facing a fourth down deep in her own end, WACO lost 20 yards and returned the ball to the Hawks just three yards from the end zone. Just two games later, St. Mary’s made them pay when Brenden Fisch found Paydirt from two yards out.
The 2 point conversion attempt failed. St. Mary’s are 18-0 up at the start of the second quarter.
END OF 1: St. Mary’s 12-0 WACO
So far it’s only been Hawks. WACO does not yet have a first down on the offensive. The Warriors hit a third and eleven deep in their own half early in the second quarter.
The catastrophe for WACO becomes child’s play
With their backs to their own goal line, WACO couldn’t afford to cough up the ball. But that’s exactly what they did. St. Mary’s defender Kaden Groepper broke the line and got WACO QB Isaac Oswald’s arm while trying to pass the ball. It caused a fumble and Jaxon Bunkers recovered for the Hawks and sauntered into the end zone from a yard out.
PAT went wide to the right, giving St Mary’s a 12-0 lead in the first quarter with less than a minute to go.
WACO defense holds at the critical moment.
On the second play of the drive, St. Mary’s QB’s Cael Ortmann hit Jaxon Bunkers in the walk for a 48-yard gain to get into WACO territory. The Warriors defense stood strong, however, forcing a turnover on downs after a failed fourth and goal play from the 4-yard line.
However, the WACO offensive must get something going soon. They haven’t had a first down today, just over a minute left in the opening quarter.
Falcons on WACO
Offside on a third down by WACO extends the Hawks’ drive. St. Mary’s drove down into Warrior territory
A critical fourth-and-two conversion to Alex Schroeder put the Hawks in the red zone and set up a short Brenden Fisch touchdown run three games later.
However, the 2-point conversion attempt failed. St. Mary’s are up 6-0 about halfway through the first frame.
We are on the way in the UNI Dome
WACO gets the ball first. They begin their opening drive around the 25-yard line.
After the 8-player game is final, West Hancock meets Grundy Center at 1:00 p.m. for the Class A state championship. This fight is also undefeated, but these two teams both know what it’s like when everything is at stake stands . This is a replay of the 2021 National Championship game which West Hancock won 19-14. The Spartans are back in the final game of the season for the fourth straight year, but they’ve never won the ultimate prize.
More:West Hancock and Grundy Center meet in the rematch of the Class A high school football title game
The last game of the day on Thursday is for all class 4A marbles. Lewis Central meets top seed Cedar Rapids Xavier at 7:00 p.m. in another match between undefeated teams. The Titans are the defending champions, led by quarterback Braylon Kammrad and their strong offense. It should be a fun game pitting this offense against the stingy Xavier defense.
More:Iowa High School Football Playoffs: Lewis Central beats Carlisle in 4A State semifinals