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By Shannon Mulcahey, Xavier senior
CEDAR RAPIDS – Hard work, dedication and faith are the cornerstones to the success of the Xavier football team.
The Saints recently ended an incredible run this season with a record of 12-2. The team made its second consecutive trip to the Class 4A state championship game and has lost only three games in the past two years.
“One word to describe this season would be amazing,” head coach Duane Schulte said. “That’s because we are a 3A school, and we played in back-to-back 4A championship games. That’s a credit to some pretty tough kids.”
In their semifinal game, the Saints beat 10th-ranked Bettendorf, 31-7. By halftime, the Saints were leading only 14-7, but added two touchdowns and a field goal kick in the second half.
“We have been working harder each day to get better in order to reach this point,” senior Brendan Miller said. “We have to embrace every moment of this journey because it goes by quickly.”
The win meant the Saints would face No. 1-ranked Des Moines Dowling in the 4A championship game. The Maroons ended up defeating the Saints, 44-13.
“Playing another Catholic school in the finals was awesome, other than the outcome,” Schulte said. “Goes to show we both do things right.”
By the end of the first half, the Saints were behind, 27-10. Dowling came up with two touchdowns and a field goal during the second half to guarantee it the title.
“Every coach wishes they could have certain plays as ‘do-overs’, but that’s impossible,” Schulte said. “As Bill Parcells used to say, ‘you are who you are.’”
After the clock ran out in the fourth quarter, the 10,000 people in the stadium quieted down. The Saints and Maroons then joined together in the middle of the field to pray.
“The atmosphere in prayer with Dowling was humbling,” Schulte said. “It was a neat way to finish the season. All glory should be to God in the end and that’s how it was. Actually, we said the Hail Mary together and that was proper, too, considering we always say a Hail Mary before and after every game, in addition to the Rosary in chapel before every game.”
Four Xavier senior earned all-state honors – future Iowa Hawkeye Matt Nelson, kicker Ryan Persick, Daniel Vega and Sean Ickes.