In the first Class 1A Semifinal football matchup at the UNI-Dome Saturday morning 11/17 at 10, a pair of former two-time state champions square off. No. 1 Council Bluffs Saint Albert is in its 19th playoff appearance and making their eighth trip to the semifinals, the fifth in succession. The Falcons, who ruled in 2004 and 2006, are winners of 21 straight games. The school is 25-16 all-time in post season. They halted Hinton and West Lyon in their two playoff tilts.
Southern Cal is in the playoffs for the seventh time, and this is their fifth time in the semifinals. The tenth-ranked Mustangs are 15-3 all-time in post season action, after edging Pleasantville and South Hamilton in the first two rounds this fall. The school won the 1990 and 2000 titles. . Southern Cal is coached by Bryan Case, a graduate of Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn and Northwestern College. An assistant in his first six years, Case has a seven year career mark of 50-18.
In the second 1A semifinal matchup Saturday, at 1 p.m., second-rated Iowa City Regina is in its fifth trip to the state playoffs, and has qualified for the fourth straight year. The school won the 2005 title and was second in 1972. They bring a 9-3 all-time post season record to their third time in the semis. The Regals blanked Bellevue, 45-0, and then rallied for a 16-6 victory over Northeast, Goose Lake to gain the Final Four.
Newman Catholic, rated third, secured their second time in the semifinals by defeating Aplington-Parkersburg, 38-13, and Starmont, 27-8. The Knights are in the playoffs for the eighth time, and their first since 2003. They have a 6-7 record in all playoff games.
Former Hall of Fame prep player, All-Big 10, All-American and NFL Pro Bowl tight end Marv Cook is the head man at Regina this year. He is one of two former NFL players to be an active head coach in Iowa this fall (Highland, Riverside's Dan Dickel is the other.) Cook prepped at West Branch and gained his degree from the University of Iowa.
Newman's Mike Dirksen is a native of Le Mars and received his college degree from Augustana in Sioux Falls, SD. He is in his 27th year as a head coach, with a 165-91 record. He has been at Newman Catholic for 24 seasons after three years at Dodge Center, MN. Dirksen has coached the Knights in all of their playoff games.
The Iowa State Class 2A football semifinals will be played on Monday Nov. 12, at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
In the first semifinal game, Solon (11-0) will play North Fayette of West Union (11-0) at 10:30 a.m.
Second-ranked Solon improved its playoff win-loss record to 27-16 by dashing past Mediapolis, 41-0, and Tipton, 42-14. This is the 18th playoff trip for the Spartans who are making their ninth appearance in the semifinals. The school won the 1988 title, and earned runner-up trophies in 1992, 2000, 2003, and 2006. North Fayette, tabbed at No. 3, brings a 16-9 post season record to the semifinals - their fifth time in a Final Four game. Overall this is the Hawks' eleventh time in the playoffs - the tenth under Coach Ron Wymer. North Fayette earned the semis by ousting Sigourney-Keota, 39-6, and Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, 28-14.
These two have met in the playoffs often, with Solon capturing a 15-7 decision last year in the quarterfinals. They know one another well, so expect few surprises and a rugged game.
The other 2A Semifinal game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Monday. In that one, Kuemper Catholic of Carroll (11-1) meets number one-ranked Central Lyon/George-Little Rock.
Central Lyon-George Little Rock is making its 15th trip to the playoffs, including four as Central Lyon, and is in the semifinals for the eighth time. The defending champion Lions also won back-to-back titles in 1976 and 1977 and took runner-up trophies home in 1991, 1996 and 1999. The school is 26-11 overall in post season play. They punched their ticket to the semifinals by defeating Eagle Grove, 11-7, and Estherville-Lincoln Central, 20-14 in overtime. They have a state - best streak of 22 straight triumphs. Kuemper Catholic is in the semifinals for the first time ever in this, their sixth playoff appearance. They are 3-5 all-time in post season play. The Knights earned their appearance in the Dome by eliminating Roland-Story and Hampton-Dumont by identical 21-14 scores.
CL/G-LR is led by 13-year coach Toby Lorenzen. The Le Mars native and graduate of Westmar played for his father Jim in high school, and has now produced his tenth playoff team. He brings a career record of 108-33 to the semis. Kuemper is coached by Justin Penner, a graduate of BCLUW, Conrad and the University of Dubuque. This is his third season as head man. He has a career mark of 25-8, and has his team in the playoffs for the third straight year.
The l Class 3A semifinal games are scheduled for the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Monday Nov. 12. In a 4:30 p.m. kickoff game, Sioux City Heelan (10-1) will meet Carlisle (10-1)
Second-rated Bishop Heelan Catholic, Sioux City returns to the UNI-Dome for the first time since 1993. The Crusaders, in the midst of their 27th playoff trip, are in the semifinals for the 12th time. This is their first ever voyage into the Class 3A playoffs, and the Crusaders have a 32-24 post season record all time. They won the 1975 and 1982 4A titles and have retired five runner-up trophies (the last in 1993, when they fell to Tim Dwight & Co from Iowa City High). Heelan defeated Carroll and traditional power Harlan (21-17) to reach the Dome.
Carlisle is in their seventh playoff appearance, but this is the first time the Wildcats, rated seventh, have reached the semifinals. They defeated Dallas Center-Grimes and avenged their only loss this year by thrashing Pella, 52-17 in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats are currently 5-6 in playoff action all-time.
Roger Jansen has been at his alma mater of Heelan for 26 years. This is his ninth season as head coach. The Morningside graduate has a 73-20 overall record, and this is his seventh playoff squad.
Carlisle's Mark Hoekstra, a graduate of Sheldon and Buena Vista University, is in his fourth year at Carlisle (21-17). He previously coached at Carl Junction, MO and has a seven year mark of 41-30. This is his first playoff squad.
In the other 3A semifinal Monday, south Tama County (11-0) takes on Keokuk (11-0) at 7:30 p.m. Third-rated South Tama County and No. 4 Keokuk, two relative newcomers to the semifinals , should bring a lot of excitement.
Keokuk has a vaunted passing attack while the Trojans rely on a quick hitting ground game. STC (8-5 all-time in post season play) is in the semifinals for the third time but their first since 1995. This is their sixth playoff trip and first since 2002. The Trojans earned the berth in the final four by edging Clear Lake, 21-19, and winning a 49-28 shoot-out with Waverly-Shell Rock. South Tama finished 1-8 a year ago.
Keokuk is in the playoff field for the second straight year and their fifth year overall. The Chiefs are 3-4 in playoff games. This is their first ever semifinal round game, after beating two-ranked opponents - sixth-rated Marion, 37-25 and No. 8 Central Clinton, DeWitt, 42-7.