Monday, October 24, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Ferentz's answer does not make sense

IOWA CITY - Kirk Ferentz knows more about football than all the rest of us combined, but I'm struggling with something he said after the Iowa Hawkeyes lost to Wisconsin Saturday.

The Hawkeyes were trailing 14-6 when they drove 60 yards to the Wisconsin 20-yard line, where they faced 4th-and-5 with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. A touchdown and two-point conversion would have tied it, but Ferentz called for a field goal to try and pull within 14-9 instead.

Keep in mind, Iowa had trouble moving the ball against Wisconsin most of the day and finished with only 236 yards of total offense. That 4th-and-5 situation at the 20 might have represented Iowa's best chance to win the game, perhaps in overtime.

It looks worse in retrospect that Keith Duncan missed the 38-yard attempt, leaving the score 14-6, but the Hawkeyes still would have needed a touchdown to win the game even if they had pulled within 14-9.

I asked Ferentz in the post-game press conference about his decision to go for three points in that situation.

"You have to score twice," he responded. "Somehow, some way, you have to score twice. If it had been something less, like 4th-and-2, we probably would have gone for the touchdown, but 4th-and-5, you know ..."

Score twice? Yes, to win the game, but not to tie it.

"In the situation we were in, we felt that was the best play," Ferentz continued after I asked a follow-up question. "We're going to have to score twice.


Saints host Assumption in 3A opener

The Xavier Saints will host Davenport Assumption in the opening round of the Class 3A football playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m. at Saints Field.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association posted all the brackets on its website Saturday morning following the end of the regular season Friday night.

Xavier finished the regular season at 9-0 overall and captured the District 3 title with a 7-0 mark. Assumption finished 7-2 overall and went 6-1 in District 4 as the district runner-up.

The Saints and Knights did not have any common opponents this season. Xavier won at Davenport Assumption, 30-6, in 2014 and beat Assumption again last year, 14-7, at Saints Field.

The entire bracket for the Class 3A playoffs has been pre-determined this season, unlike recent years when the IHSAA determined opponents on a round-by-round basis.

If the Saints defeat Davenport Assumption, they will host West Delaware (8-1) or Waverly-Shell Rock (6-3) in the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 4 at Saints Field, according to the IHSAA rules for determining second-round hosts.

Xavier was placed on the same side of the 16-team bracket with Pella, which means the second-ranked Saints would meet the top-ranked Dutch in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 10 in the UNI-Dome if they both get that far.


Saints march into playoffs at 9-0

TAMA - Xavier Coach Duane Schulte spotted several of his players sneaking up from behind with a bucket of ice water Friday night and tried to escape, but it was too late.

Schulte got drenched in the final minute of Xavier's 48-12 victory over South Tama that gave the Saints a perfect 9-0 record for the regular season.

For good measure, the head coach got doused again a short time later with another bucket.

"Whenever there's an undefeated regular season, my dad gets a little bath," explained quarterback Bryce Schulte, one of the perpetrators. "Reggie's group did it (in 2012). And we did it last year at Marion, too. It was pretty fun."

This is the fourth undefeated regular season in school history. It happened the first time in 2006, when the Saints marched all the way to Class 4A state title. It happened in 2012 with Reggie Schulte at quarterback on the way to another trip to the Class 4A finals, and now it's happened two straight years in Class 3A.

Coach Schulte would gladly take a cold bath in public every year in salute to a perfect regular season.

"I think it's great for our kids and our program," he said. "It's hard to win one game on a Friday night, let alone nine. I'm proud of our coaches and our players."

Bryce Schulte passed for three touchdowns and tied his brother Reggie's school record for career completions with 265. Maliki Wilson scored three times and began the festivities with an 85-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff.


Burns has been a big catch for Saints

Brett Burns has been a secret weapon for the Xavier football team for most of the season, but the secret is out now.

Burns, a lanky tight end, has caught four touchdown passes in the last five games for the Saints and is tied for the team lead with those four TD grabs.

Burns did not catch a single pass for Xavier last year as a junior. And he did not catch any touchdown passes in the first three games this season, but he's become a big threat for the Saints now.

Xavier (8-0, 6-0) will finish the regular season at South Tama on Friday night, then steam into the Class 3A playoffs with a home game next Friday night, Oct. 28.

Burns was a wide receiver for the Saints last year, but he moved to tight end this season and has eight catches for 108 yards. He's tied with Nolan Butkowski and Quinn Schulte with his four TD passes from quarterback Bryce Schulte.

When Coach Duane Schulte sends in the plays, he generally gives Bryce the option of finding an open receiver and throwing the ball to him, rather than picking a receiver in advance.

"Coach Schulte has been calling good plays that get us in areas where we can succeed," Burns said Tuesday before practice. "I'm just glad that Bryce has some trust in me that he's throwing me the ball."


Bonnett joins Iowa Women's Softball League

Megan Bonnett of Luther College has become the 11th and newest member of the Iowa Women's Fast-Pitch Softball League that will begin play in Cedar Rapids next summer.

Bonnett is a middle infielder who starred at Iowa City Regina High School during her prep softball days. She was named all-conference, all-district and all-state at Regina in 2013 and 2014 and was named Regina's MVP both years.

Bonnett is currently a junior at Luther, which competes in the Iowa Conference at the NCAA Division III level.

The new Iowa Women's Softball League, which is being formed by the Metro Sports Report, is intended for all active college players in Iowa and for Iowans who are playing at out-of-state schools.


The season will consist of 10 doubleheaders on Sunday afternoons next summer, beginning on Sunday, May 28 and running through Sunday, July 30. All of the games will be played at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids, beginning at 2 p.m. each day.


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