At one time the BGM football program had run out of ammunition.
Now, the Bears are reloading every year.
They will take their biggest shot in program history when they face second-ranked Wapsie Valley in an Iowa High School Athletic Association Class A state football semifinal today at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Kickoff is set for 10:06 a.m., and all semifinal and championship game will be televised on KCRG 9.2.
BGM is ranked ninth at 10-2, setting a school record in wins. The game marks the Bears first state semifinal berth in five postseason appearances, The players have anxiously awaited this opportunity.
“They’re pretty pumped,” BGM Coach Jerod Burns said. “All these kids have dreamed about this day since they were probably about five years old when they started playing catch with their old man in the backyard (or) when some of them strapped on pads when they were that young.”
At one time, BGM was nearly out of ammunition, canceling the 2004 varsity schedule to play strictly junior varsity competition. Now, they are replacing their weapons, surpassing last year’s success despite losing 10 seniors, including nine starters, to graduation.
“For us to reload like this and do what we’ve done, I’m really proud of the kids,” Burns said. “It shows what kind of program we’ve established here.
It’s all on the kids. They really buy in and sell out in the off-season. That’s where championships are won.”
The Bears are a win away from reaching the championship game. They have won eight straight, including playoff wins on the road over defending state champion Lisbon and district champ Lynnville-Sully, avenging a 26-point loss Sept. 14.
Injuries caused major changes. Jack Kline moved from wide receiver to tailback, Nate Beck went to wideout from the backfield and some younger players stepped and up on the line.
The juggle paid dividends. Kline leads the team in rushing with 1,380 yards, averaging 6.6 yards a carry, and 15 touchdowns, Beck is the Bears top receiver, accounting for 563 yards and seven TDs of quarterback Bryan Kriegel’s 895 passing yards and 10 TDs totals.
“We were a completely different team at the beginning of the year with personnel we had on the field and identity we had as a football team,” Burns said. “Injuries forced us to take a look at some other things and those ended up working out really well for us.”
The toughest test of the season awaits in a Wapsie Valley team that has rolled to a 12-0 record. Burns said the Warriors have the complete package — speed, a physical offensive and defensive lines and dynamic skill players.
Tyler Odneal leads the Warriors with 1,893 rushing yards and 31 TDs. Quarterback Mitchell Boevers has thrown for more than 1,450 yards and 19 TDs, hitting Kenny Saulsberry 33 times for 590 yards and 10 scores.
“They have just about everything you need to be in this situation,” Burns said. “They’ve definitely proved what kind of football team they are this year.”
The outcome can’t change the fact that this team is the first BGM major boys’ sports team to reach the state semifinals, and these seniors have reached the playoffs every year. The program had never reached the postseason until starting the five-year streak in 2008.
“Our kids are definitely proud of their accomplishments this year but we don’t focus on that stuff,” Burns said. “I think after the season we’ll take a step back and look at that. I think some of that will soak in.
“We’re looking ahead to (today). Not looking back.”
Bears, BGM, Bryan Kriegel, Class A, fnl-sports, Football, Iowa High School Athletic Association, Jack Kline, Jerod Burns, Kenny Saulsberry, Mitchell Boevers, Nate Beck, state semifinals, Tyler Odneal, Wapsie Valley, Warriors