Final: Southeast Polk 35, Johnston 14
Defending Class 5A state champion Southeast Polk booked a spot in the state finals for the third straight year.
The fourth-ranked Rams (11-1) built a 21-0 halftime lead and extended it to 35-0 in the third quarter.
Southeast Polk ran for 219 yards, led by Harrison Gibson's 94. Abu Sama ran for 87 with three touchdowns. Conner Moberly completed 9 of 13 passes for 100 yards and a score.
Will Nuss was 11-for-28 passing for 231 yards, two touchdowns (79- and 86-yard scoring strikes to Tatum Fox) and three interceptions for No. 6 Johnston (8-4). Cole Rogers had two of those picks for the Rams and led the team with five tackles.
SEP — Abu Sama 37 run (Josh Wilson kick), 9:34 1st
SEP — Sama 4 run (Wilson kick), 4:23 2nd
SEP — Trey Lust 30 blocked punt return (Wilson kick), 1:46 2nd
SEP — Sama 10 run (Wilson kick), 8:24 3rd
SEP — Carson Robbins 11 pass from Conner Moberly (Wilson kick), 1:55 3rd
J — Tatum Fox 79 pass from Will Nuss (Carson Hanson kick), 0:34 3rd
J — Fox 86 pass from Nuss (Hanson kick), 5:24 4th
Final: West Des Moines Valley 22, West Des Moines Dowling 21
No. 10 Valley (8-4) scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes and completed a 2-point conversion with 30 seconds left to shock rival Dowling (10-2) in the Class 5A semifinals.
After two road wins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Tigers fell behind 14-0 against the second-ranked Maroons here. Dowling won the regular-season meeting 35-3, but Valley rallied this time to continue its postseason run.
The Tigers kept their game-winning drive alive by converting fourth-and-3 at the Dowling 12 as Michael Provenza threaded a 6-yard pass to Zay Robinson. Two plays later, Ayden Price stretched over the goal line after a pitch, then Provenza found Robinson in the end zone for the go-ahead conversion.
WHAT A GAME! 5A semi-final, Valley with a clutch 2pt conversion w/:30 left in the game to go up 22-21 & get the win over Dowling! @HyVee @Iowa_Radiology @IFBCA @vhstigers @CoachSwensVTFB @dchsfootball @ValleyTigersFb pic.twitter.com/RbiwuSlaiI— Dome Dynasty (@DomeDynasty) November 12, 2022
Valley, which has won five state titles, is in the finals for the first time since losing to Dowling in the 2019 4A title game.
Provenza completed 17 of 23 passes for 167 yards and a TD. Damon Head ran for 93 yards and a score. Dowling's Jaxon Smolik was 9-of-19 passing for 205 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers sacked him five times.
WDMD — Jaxon Smolik 1 run (Andrew Schumacher kick), 5:59 1st
WDMD — Cooper Nicholson 55 pass from Smolik (Schumacher kick), 6:26 2nd
WDMV — Ayden Price 50 pass from Michael Provenza (Rico Alvarenga-Servellon kick), 5:04 2nd
WDMD — Ra'shawd Davis 5 run (Schumacher kick), 4:49 3rd
WDMV — Damon Head 12 run (Alvarenga-Servellon kick), 5:01 4th
WDMV — Price 2 run (Zay Robinson pass from Provenza), 0:30 4th
Catch up quick: Friday's state football semifinals
• The Valley-Dowling rivalry delivered a classic in the first Class 5A semifinal game. No. 10 West Des Moines Valley scored 15 unanswered points in the last five minutes, completing a 2-point conversion with 30 seconds left to earn its third upset win of the postseason, 22-21 over No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling.
• No. 4 Southeast Polk, the defending champion, cruised to a 35-14 win over No. 6 Johnston in the Class 5A nightcap.
• Top-ranked Van Meter ended a great season for No. 3 West Branch with a 48-17 win in the Class 1A semifinals. Bears coach Butch Pedersen, who has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments, was able to be on the sideline for the game.
• No. 2 West Sioux cruised past fourth-ranked Underwood, 47-7, earning a Class 1A title-game rematch with defending champion Van Meter.
Final: West Sioux 47, Underwood 7
Second-ranked West Sioux (11-1) totaled 481 yards of offense and ran past No. 4 Underwood (11-1) in a Class 1A semifinal game.
The Falcons set up a 1A title game rematch with Van Meter, which won last year's final, 17-14.
West Sioux quarterback Dylan Wiggins completed 21 of 23 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns and added 78 yards and two more scores on the ground. Brady Lynott ran for 80 yards and two TDs and caught five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
West Sioux led 30-7 at halftime. Its only loss this year is to 2A No. 1 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock.
WS — Brady Lynott 66 run (Omar Rivera kick), 10:48 1st
WS — Rivera 30 field goal, 7:03 1st
WS — Lynott 8 pass from Dylan Wiggins (Rivera kick), 11:54 2nd
U — Mason Boothby 69 pass from Alex Ravlin (Gus Bashore kick), 10:41 2nd
WS — Lynott 1 run (run failed), 8:13 2nd
WS — Kolton Koopmans 22 pass from Wiggins (Rivera kick), 0:30 2nd
WS — Rivera 33 field goal, 2:41 3rd
WS — Wiggins 10 run (Rivera kick), 11:49 4th
WS — Wiggins 1 run (Rivera kick), 7:43 4th
CEDAR FALLS — Great season, great story, great display of perseverance and courage.
Focus there, now as that great season ended.
West Branch’s football team ran into an opponent Friday morning that was better. Shrug your shoulders and acknowledge the truth.
Top-ranked Van Meter is really, really good, folks. Really, really, really good.
Explosive offensively, stingy defensively, even a kickoff kid who can boot it into the end zone with regularity. The Bulldogs showed it all in a 48-17 Class 1A state playoff semifinal win at the UNI-Dome.
Van Meter (11-1), which lost to 2A semifinalist Williamsburg by five points in the regular season, seeks a second straight 1A championship next week. It was runner-up in 2020.
For West Branch (11-1), this was a trip to the Dome for the first time since 2011. It made a stirring fourth-quarter comeback last week in the quarterfinals to get here.
It also, of course, has been dealing with the cancer diagnosis of legendary head coach Butch Pedersen, who began chemotherapy treatments about three weeks ago. He was inspirational on the sidelines for this game, though mostly away from the action, guarded, so to speak, by his son Lance, whose Mount Vernon team plays a 3A semifinal Saturday night.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association allowed Lance Pedersen to be with his father as a sort of guard, making sure Butch was physically protected from any unintentional contact.
“Just to have him on the sideline in general,” said West Branch’s Kinnick Boelk. “I asked him on Thursday if he was going to be there, and he said he was going to try as hard as he could. I’m just so glad he was there with us in our last game.”
“It just meant so much for us to have Coach Pedersen on the sideline,” said West Branch quarterback Tye Hughes. “He hasn’t been able to be with us much the second half of the year, so having him there meant a lot to all of us.”
Final: Van Meter 48, West Branch 17
West Branch scored first with a field goal on its opening drive, but Van Meter (11-1) scored the next 35 points and handed the No. 3 Bears (11-1) their first loss in the Class 1A semifinals.
The top-ranked Bulldogs return to the 1A title game for the fourth straight year and fifth in the last six. They won titles in 2017 and 2021.
Van Meter's Ben Gordon caught a 62-yard TD pass and ran for 190 yards and two scores. Ben Gilliland completed 6 of 7 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a TD and caught a TD pass.
Tye Hughes passed for 208 yards and a touchdown and scored another on the ground for the Bears.
WB — Wyatt Fiderlein 33 field goal, 8:50 1st
VM — Ben Gilliland 5 pass from Carter Durflinger (Katie Lindsay kick), 0:41 1st
VM — Ben Gordon 3 run (Lindsay kick), 10:54 2nd
VM — Porter Doggett 13 fumble return (Lindsay kick), 10:46 2nd
VM — Gilliland 7 run (Lindsay kick), 4:37 2nd
VM — Will Gordon 94 pass from Gilliland (Lindsay kick), 8:05 3rd
WB — Tye Hughes 1 run (Fiderlein kick), 2:21 3rd
VM — Ben Gordon 62 pass from Gilliland (Lindsay kick), 0:16 3rd
WB — Kinnick Boelk 14 pass from Hughes (Fiderlein kick), 7:49 4th
VM — Ben Gordon 35 run (kick blocked), 4:06 4th
CEDAR RAPIDS — It could have been divisive, but it wasn’t.
Tye Hughes transferred in to West Branch from Iowa City Liberty and became the Bears’ starting quarterback. Carver Boelk, last year’s QB, moved to receiver.
Hughes has helped West Branch to an 11-0 record and a spot in the Class 1A state playoff semifinals. Boelk is West Branch’s second-leading pass catcher and has the most receiving touchdowns on the team.
That’s called win-win.
“Tye came in this season and what could have been an awkward situation with last year’s QB became one where they’re great friends, and Carver Boelk moved to receiver and became one of Tye’s prime targets,” said West Branch acting head coach John Hierseman. “We’re very happy to have Tye at West Branch, and I know he is glad to be here, too.”
West Branch found itself in a quarterfinal bind, trailing MFL MarMac, 24-13, entering the fourth quarter. But Tye Hughes ran for a pair of late touchdowns to rescue the Bears and send them to the Dome for the first time since 2011. Hughes ran for 122 yards.
Now, the Bears have their sights set on their first finals appearance since winning three titles between 1989 and 1992.
Van Meter presents a giant roadblock, though. The Bulldogs have stacked four consecutive shutouts and have allowed only 10 points in the past eight weeks. They routed Sigourney-Keota, 45-0, last week, churning out 323 rushing yards — 168 by Ben Gordon, who scored four touchdowns — and outgaining the Cobras, 372-90.
Van Meter is in pursuit of its fifth finals appearance in the last six years.
Friday's state football schedule
10 a.m. — No. 3 West Branch (11-0) vs. No. 1 Van Meter (10-1)
1 p.m. — No. 4 Underwood (11-0) vs. No. 2 West Sioux (10-1)
4 p.m. — No. 10 West Des Moines Valley (7-4) vs. No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling (10-1)
7 p.m. — No. 6 Johnston (8-3) vs. No. 4 Southeast Polk (10-1)