Key area football games for the playoff semifinals this week at UNI-Dome:
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER at CEDAR FALLS (Class 4A)
Time and site: 7:06 p.m., Friday
Records and rankings: No. 3 Xavier is 12-0; No. 7 Cedar Falls is 11-1
Notable: The Saints return to the semifinals, advancing this far in 2009 and winning the 2006 Class 4A state title. Xavier beat Cedar Falls, 24-7, over the Tigers at the UNI-Dome in Week 8. Wes Gardner, who powered the Saints with 172 rushing yards and two TDs in a 28-7 quarterfinal win over Cedar Rapids Prairie, had 89 yards and a score, and quarterback Reggie Schulte threw for two TDs against the first meeting with the Tigers, who make their second straight semifinal appearance. The Saints defense has been stiff this season, allowing 7.7 points per game and forcing 24 turnovers. The Tigers will show a new look to Xavier, moving Brian Cook to quarterback and the team’s leading passer Brayden Longnecker into wideout position. Longnecker, who had 736 yards passing and seven TDs, made the transition at the end of the season. He has 218 receiving yards and three TDs. Longnecker had two catches for 71 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, in the Tigers’ 28-21 quarterfinal win over top-seeded Pleasant Valley.
WILLIAMSBURG vs. DECORAH (Class 3A)
Time and site: 8:21 p.m., Thursday
Records and rankings: No. 3 Williamsburg is 11-1; No. 1 Decorah is 12-0
Notable: The Vikings find themselves one win away from matching their 2011 accomplishment. The former 3A runners-up have been top-ranked all year, and are coming off their closest game, a 21-14 win over DeWitt Central. Decorah’s dashing duo of Holt Johansen and Josey Jewell have both surpassed 1,000 rushing yards. Johnansen leads the team with 1,036 and Jewell has 1,018. Jewell has a team-high 16 rushing TDs and Johansen has 13. Quarterback Jacob Kvale, who has seven rushing TDs, can keep defenses honest with almost 700 yards passing a TD-to-interception ratio of 11-1. Williamsburg defense has been a guiding force for the Raiders, playing in the semifinals for the third time in school history and first since 2005. They have 31 turnovers this season, including 16 fumbles. Williamsburg dropped Winterset, 31-13, breaking open the game in the second half. Lorren Stahl had 135 rushing yards and a TD, while Jacob Donohoe threw for 199 and a score, giving him 1,243 and 1`4 this season. Stahl is tops among active Williamsburg rushers with 454 yards. Nick Spratt has added nine rushing TDs.
MEDIAPOLIS vs. DYERSVILLE BECKMAN (Class 2A)
Time and site: 7:06 p.m., Saturday
Records and rankings: No. 1 Mediapolis is 12-0; No. 7 Dyersville Beckman is 11-1
Notable: Dyersville Beckman has matched the school’s best season, earning its second straight berth in the 2A state semifinals. The Blazers are balanced. Mitch Steger is a versatile threat, tallying 1,026 receiving yards and 454 rushing yards with 16 total touchdowns. Ian Ross leads the Blazers with 855 yards on the ground and 12 TDs. Quarterback Grant Hammann has thrown for 1,645 yards and 12 scores. Beckman has won 11 straight and hasn’t lost to a 2A team this season, beating a ranked Waukon, 32-20, in the quarterfinal. Mediapolis poses a threat few teams do with quarterback Jesse Ertz, who has signed to play football for Kansas State next year. Ertz leads the state with 42 TD passes with only one interception, throwing for almost 2,400 yards. His top target is Jordan Wagenbaach, who has 990 yards on 46 catches and 16 TDs. Both teams were eliminated from the 2011 playoffs by eventual state champion Iowa City Regina.
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD vs. IOWA CITY REGINA (Class 1A)
Time and site: 10:06 a.m., Saturday
Records and rankings: No. 2 Dike-New Hartford is 12-0; No. 1 Regina is 12-0
Notable: Regina has won 40 straight games, including the last two Class 2A state titles. The Regals overcame an early challenge from Maquoketa Valley for a lopsided 38-14 quarterfinal win. Mark Ward has amassed 2,361 total yards and 34 TDs, passing for 1,795 and 26 TDs. Alex Balke has 706 receiving yards and 13 scores. Riley Dixon has 1,454 rushing yards and 14 TDs, including three in the quarterfinals. Dike-New Hartford, the 2010 1A state runner-up, scored a solid 34-14 quarterfinal win over traditional power Aplington-Parkersburg. The Wolverines haven’t been challenged much this season, outscoring opponents by nearly an average of 30 points per game (39-9.8). Terry Mooty powers the DNH offense, rushing for 2,026 yards and 26 TDs. Quarterback Carson Parker has thrown for 1,249 yards and 14 TDs..
WAPSIE VALLEY vs. BGM (Class A)
Time and site: 10:06 a.m., Friday
Records and rankings: No. 2 Wapsie Valley is 12-0; No. 9 BGM is 10-2
Notable: This has been a banner season for BGM. The football team has advanced further than any major boys’ sports team (baseball, basketball and football) in school history. BGM is making its fifth postseason in school history, all under current head coach Jerod Burns. The Bears have made an impressive run, avenging a loss to Lynnville-Sully in quarterfinals after upending defending state champion Lisbon in the second round. Jack Kline and Kyle Gritsch power the Bears rush attack. Kline leads BGM with 1,380 yards and 15 TDS, including 240 and three in the 28-13 quarterfinal win. Gritsch adds 868 and 12. The Bears defense has shut out five opponents this season. Wapsie Valley’s Mitch Boevers and Tyler Odneal give Wapsie Valley a potent 1-2 punch. Odneal has rushed for 1,893 yards and 31 touchdowns. Boevers has thrown for 1,454 and 19 TDs with 10 to Kenny Saulsberry.