Whoa Baby: State Champs again

Dowling Catholic 38, City High 31. (image by Paul Yeager)

“Whoa Baby.”

That’s the way my broadcast parter Dave Marcoulier described Friday’s Class 4A football final that saw West Des Moines Dowling Catholic lay claim to their 3rd State Football title. It was the 10th time in the finals for DCHS. Prior to 2000, the Maroons were 0-7. Now they’ve won the last three championship games they’ve played in.

The “Whoa Baby” came after the 4th and goal pass from the line of scrimmage at the 19 was intercepted by Eric Lee. At that moment the City High players, who had outgained the Maroons until the last frame, and up until the third play of OT, left the field in defeat. Their 27 game win streak was snapped, but they played in one whale of game. (live blog review)

City High was very successful in running the ball in the first half. They were also able to run it very well for most of the second half as well, racking up 238 yards on 49 carries.

Justin Hayworth/The Register Dowling quarterback Connor Bravard runs away from Iowa City City High's Ryan Kroeze in the first quarter during the Class 4A Championship football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

Dowling came close to that by the end of the game, but it just didn’t feel that the Maroons gained 208 yards on 38 carries. It was the passing game that put Dowling in the championship round of the 4A playoffs and it was the passing game that coach Tom Wilson called on several times for key catches in the 4th quarter with Connor Bravard throwing for 269 yards passing on 25 attempts and 18 completions. Bravard would have 20 carries for 153 yards or 422 total yards (Passing + Rushing). The Maroons would win the total yardage game 477-400.

The big target for the Maroons was their go-to receiver, Amara Darboh. His 6 catches for 94 yards came mostly in the 4th quarter in clutch situations. Darboh was get open just enough to warrant a throw. We’ll get to Darboh’s other big play later in this story.

Justin Hayworth/The Register Dowling's Ben Boesen jumps over Iowa City City High's Andrew McNulty and into the end zone for a second quarter touchdown during the Class 4A Championship football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

Ben Boesen was the earlier target for Bravard, as Boesen, the senior TE caught 2 touchdowns in the first half, both well-executed plays. Boesen finished the game with 75 yards, 2 TDs over 5 catches.

But the real big catch was made by Andrew Pick in the overtime frame. Bravard rolled to his right and round Pick on a simple out route. It was his only catch of the game, but those 9 yards set the table for Dalton Parrott to put his head down and get his 3rd touchdown of the game. I was pulling for Pick to get his first TD of the season, but he’ll have to settle for knowing his catch set up the win.

The play call to Pick seemed to be stolen from City High’s play sheet as Andrew McNulty found fullback Adam Prybil 2 times for 32 yards. Not big in yards, but big in situations. Prybil also ran the ball 6 times for 22 yards and a score in the 3rd quarter that gave the Little Hawks a 21-13 lead with 8:06 remaining.

City High’s biggest weapon was Cedric Readus. The senior running back finished with 171 yards rushing yards and a TD catch. The receiving grab put the Little Hawks up at half 14-13. Readus gained 76 yards on a right haymaker to DCHS. The Maroons has just tied the game behind a 7 yard TD run by Parrott that was set up by huge runs by Bravard of 16, 9, 6 and two passes of 15 and 18. Dowling seemed to have the swagger back, but then Readus ran wild to the south endzone making the score 28-21 City High.

The Maroons went 3 and out and followed up with a 14 yard punt by Bravard. The Maroons bit their own lip on the drive.

But then the defense held City High on a short field and three plays from ten before Drew Cornwell kicked a 27 yard field goal to give the Dan Sabers bunch their biggest lead of the game with :33 left in the 3rd Quarter.

Dowling’s defense was on the field twice as long in the first half, but made ground up by putting the City High D on the UNI-Dome turf for most of the 3rd quarter. That to me and Mr. Marcoulier would be a telling tale.

Crowded House at the UNI-Dome. The visiting team was getting nervous.

The Maroons were driving on the first series of the 4th quarter behind All-State quarterback Connor Bravard. But a fumble at the 10:39 seemed to have many Maroon and White faithful grabbing for air.

The defense forced City High to punt after 3 plays.

Then Bravard found Darboh for passes of 21 and 15 yards. Bravard run of 11, Parrott for 16 and maroons were again marching to the goal line. When Parrott scored at the 6:03 mark the score was 31-28.

The biggest series of the season saw City High move the football 14 yards and the drive appeared to have stalled out. City High was facing a 4th and 8 from their own 49. With some confusion on 4th down, City took a time out. McNulty rolled to the right on a fake punt looking for Connor Alberhasky. Incomplete. Dowling takes over on downs 49 yards short of the endzone with 2:30 to play. If you punt the football, the Maroons are likely having to drive, at the best case scenario, 80 yards with 3 timeouts and under three minutes to play.

Bravard again put the team on his shoulders all the way to the City High 5. On 3rd and 3, Bravard is tackled for a one yard loss on the right hash. Out comes Mac Chapman with a hard angle field goal attempt from 23 yards out. The line drive somehow sneaks inside the left goal post and we’re tied at 31 at the end of regulation.

Justin Hayworth/The Register Dowling Dalton Parrott slips past Iowa City City High's Jeremy Johnson to score a touchdown in overtime during the Class 4A Championship football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

The Maroons had seen overtime before, against Valley when the Maroons rallied in the 4th quarter to push the extra time. But City High won the toss, sent their defense out first, which had been on the field for 21 plays. Pick would get that catch and Parrott the TD set up City High’s chance.

Jason McMurray would take a shot on a play and would be forced from the game. The Maroons call time out, put in Amara Darboh, but with the TO keep #15 in and bring back in McMurray. Darboh lined up at right DE on the 3rd down play and team with Josip Juric for the sack.

Justin Hayworth/The Register Iowa City City High quarterback Andrew McNulty kneels dejected on the turf as Dowling celebrates their 38-31 overtime victory during the Class 4A Championship football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

The season came down to a 4th and goal from the 19 and McNulty’s pass came left and Eric Lee stepped in front for the INT and set the celebration motion.

You could make a case that the close games to SE Polk, Valley and Ankeny in the semi’s may have helped build this team. But conditioning may have helped this squad as well. City High had been in that close of a game but once this entire season.

But maybe the demons hanging over the team from the semi-final loss to Marshalltown in 2009 also were waiting to exhale. This time, the Maroons were on offense late and in control and not as tired.

The defensive night for Matt Eganhouse and McMurry were huge. The two had 7.5 tackles and Tommy Miller had 7 with Mathew Formanek with 6.5 and Ty Flood and Luke LaWarne getting 4.5.

Zach Swehla had 8.5 tackles to lead City High. Todd Turney had 8 and Ryan Kroeze and Amos Lavela had 5 tackles each.

Justin Hayworth/The Register Dowling head coach Tom Wilson accepts the championship trophy as his team starts to celebrate their 38-31 victory over Iowa City City High during the Class 4A Championship football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls Friday night. (Justin Hayworth/The Des Moines Register)

The state title was the first for Tom Wilson. His three previous trips ended in defeat. It also was the first for Dowling since the 2000 and 2001 campaigns, neither Wilson, or coaching legend Jim Williams were around for.

One fun view for me was see the Dowling team rush the field, including assistant coach Craig McClain do a somersault to midfield.

Dave let the Whoa Baby fly and we were in business for a happy post game show. Thanks to Brian Morris for chasing down the players and coaches from the tunnel and bring than back into microphone range.

The Maroons set a school record for wins at 14.

They open against Valley on August 19 to start the 2011 campaign. We’ll worry about that later. These 31 seniors went out on a big note.

Here’s a look at the No, Its Iowa blog post of the game. Good video by Jesse Gavin and the hoisting of the trophy.

IowaPrepFanatic.com posted this story including some post game interviews as well from this epic battle.

As always, huge thanks to Romelle Slaughter for all the work on Twitter.com/KWKYSports and the in-game stats and spotting. He truly is the man.

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