One high-profile game that didn’t go very well failed to affect Cedar Rapids Xavier’s vaunted defense when it came to all-state voting.
The Saints placed four players on the Iowa Newspaper Association’s Class 4A first-team defense. Reporter Jeff Johnson of The Gazette helped select the team, which honored linemen Daniel Vega and Matt Nelson, linebacker Sean Ickes and punter Ryan Persick.
All are seniors. Xavier lost to West Des Moines Dowling in last weekend’s 4A state championship game, 44-13.
Dowling senior defensive lineman John Swisher, who led the state with 29 tackles for loss and 17 sacks, was named 4A team captain.
“This was an incredibly great group of kids to work with,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “How do you match back-to-back state championship games in 4A when you’re a 3A school? It’s unprecedented. I don’t know if it’ll ever be done again.”
Nelson made the 4A first team a second straight year. The University of Iowa commitment led the Saints – who came into their final game with a state-best defensive average of 5.23 points – with nine sacks.
Vega had a breakout season after moving from linebacker to tackle, leading Xavier in tackles and tackles for loss. Linebacker Ickes led Xavier in solo tackles. Persick also was a standout kicker, making 10 field goals this season.
Other 4A first-teamers include Iowa City High running back Xavier Washpun and offensive lineman Austin Holzer. Washpun led the Mississippi Valley Conference in rushing, while Holzer is a repeat all-stater, moving up from a second-team spot last season.
Class 3A runner-up Washington (Iowa) put three players on the first team in running back Alex Coker, lineman Tommy Peterson and linebacker Garrett Covington. Quarterback Trent Solsma of Sioux City Heelan, who accounted for six TDs in a 47-14 championship game win over Washington was named the 3A captain.
In Class 2A, runner-up Waukon put a whopping six players on the first team, highlighted by defensive linemen Glyeb Ewing and Seth Snitker. Ewing is an Oregon State commitment.
The Indians actually placed five defenders on the first team, including linebackers Parker Hesse (who has been offered by Iowa) and Dakota Ness and defensive back Jacob Ronan. Running back Marcus Weymiller, who was injured early in Waukon’s 31-28 title game loss to Carroll Kuemper, also earned first-team honors after rushing for 1,553 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Kuemper quarterback Cole Neary was named 2A captain.
The Class 1A captain is Iowa City Regina running back Riley Dixon. The Regals, of course, won their fourth championship in a row and have won a record 56 consecutive games.
Other first-team all-staters from Regina are linemen Mike Sehl and Phil Arendt, quarterback Drew Cook, kicker Jacob Adam and defensive lineman Elliott Halsch. Arendt, Cook and Adam are juniors.
In Class A, runner-up BGM was feated with three first-teamers in running back Jack Kline, kicker Kyle Gritsch and linebacker Adam Hawkins. Kline had an amazing nine punt-return TDs this season, while Gritsch – who also was a 1,000-yard rusher – made 91 of 95 extra points and his lone field-goal attempt.
Brandon Snyder of West Lyon was the Class A captain.
The Eight-Player captain was Don Bosco’s Jake Hogan, who accounted for 71 touchdowns running and throwing in the Dons’ state-championship season. Springville, which lost to Don Bosco in the state quarterfinals, placed three guys on the first team: running back Elias Nissen, defensive lineman Tyler Stewart and kicker Brian Allsup.
Nissen led the state with 59 total touchdowns.
Here are all of the all-state teams: