E’Hawks vs Wildcats 1A Title On Line In Saturday’s Matchup
The time for speculation is over.
Put away records, rankings, polls and the like. The only way to settle this, once and for all, is to play the game.
That’s just what’s going to happen Saturday morning at 10:05 a.m. at the UNI Dome.
The Emmetsburg E’Hawks will meet West Lyon’s Wildcats for the Class 1A State Championship.
That, in a nutshell, is what the entire football season has been building up to since those steamy days in August for the Emmetsburg E’Hawks.
“This is just a great opportunity for us as a team,” noted Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap. “It’s a great opportunity for a group of kids who have worked very, very hard all season long, and are so deserving of this.”
Few will disagree that the title game this Saturday is a great reward for the E’Hawks, who put together a dominant season for their first year in Class 1A action.
But, their opponent is an old adversary, one the E’Hawks have met eight times in the playoffs, with each team taking four wins in those meetings, the last meeting coming in 2004.
According to Bud Legg of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the 1A title game will more than live up to its’ hype.
“These two teams are physical and technique-wise they are as sound as they come with textbook fundamentals on blocking and tackling. That type of football doesn’t always make good copy but it produces great results, and both schools have littered their season with teams that play another brand.”
Legg continues,“Emmetsburg is ranked second and unbeaten in 13 games is making its 33rd trip, the most of any school, to the invitation only playoffs. The E-Hawks, 62-24 in post season play, are making their first appearance since winning the 2003 title. It has not been an easy road for the eight time champions (1977, 79, 89, 90, 97, 2000, 02 and 03) and seven time runners-up (1975, 76, 78, 83, 84, 87, and 88). During the season they took the measure of fifth-ranked Saint Edmond, Fort Dodge, and in the playoffs to gain the finals they sidelined South Winneshiek, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, top-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg, 14-6 and No. 6 West Branch in the semifinals.”
West Lyon, ranked fourth, is making its’ 19th trip to the playoffs and their sixth straight appearance in the playoffs.
“After opening the season with a touchdown loss to Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, the Wildcats have won 12 straight games. One of the victims was eighth-rated Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, but their signature win may have been in the quarterfinals when they ousted two-time defending champion and third-ranked Saint Albert, Council Bluffs, 28-21. West Lyon, who also finished runner-up in 1995, eliminated No. 11 Prairie Valley in the semifinals,” according to Legg.
No matter of what the past records indicate, everything comes down to Saturday’s game when the two teams pull the chin straps tight at go after each other.
“This is going to be a game where two football teams that want to play physical football are going to meet up and do just that,” noted Dunlap.
According to the E’Hawk mentor, West Lyon will operate offensively out of the I formation. “They’ll run right up and run right at you.”
West Lyon has produced 3,988 rushing yards for an average of 6.1 yards per carry while the E’Hawks have amassed 4,703 ground yards, an average 7.4 yards per carry.
Emmetsburg has thrown for 629 yards and 10 TDs while the Wildcats have gone to the airways for 566 yards and six touchdowns during the season.
With such equality in matchups, the script for the championship game should be simple – hard-nosed, hard-hitting football.
“It’s all going to come down to playing with focus and intensity,” Dunlap said. “Both the offensive and Defensive lines up front will have to play their best football.”
Like they have all season long, the E’Hawks are focusing in on the most important game of the season, the one right in front of them.
“The big key is going to be eliminating mental mistakes and not turning the ball over,” Dunlap said. “We will have to continue to play aggressive, assignment defense for the whole game.”
While the outcome won’t be known till Saturday afternoon, there is one sure fact that you can count on – the time for talk is over and the time to let actions speak louder than words is at hand.