CEDAR FALLS - It's no mystery why the 2012 Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn football Eagles today wear the crown as Iowa's 8-player State Champions after demolishing previously undefeated Don Bosco Gilbertville,51-16, in the State Championship game here in the UNI Dome on Thursday.
MMC tallied two touchdowns on two possessions in the first quarter to pocket a 15-0 lead, and then blistered the Dons with a 22-point salvo off three more TDs in the second period to stake out an insurmountable 37-0 halftime lead over the 12-0 Don Bosco team.
Utesch rushed the ball 13 times for 130 yards and TD runs of 16, 19, and 39 yards; passed 23 yards to Hoefling and 41 yards to Dylan Spieler for two more TDs; and caught an 8-yard TD pass from Hoelfing to account for six Eagle TDs.
MMC fullback Jake Meehan scored on a 3-yard TD run on the heels of a beauteous 44-yard break-away run by Meehan.
Explosive Don Bosco was held scoreless by a fierce Eagle defense until the final five minutes of the game when the Dons hung up two TDs against MMC substitutes. The Dons scored on an 18-yard pass from Jake Hogan to Tyler Metcalf with 4:46 left to play on the continous second-half clock, and on a 2-yard pass from Hogan to Nick Scobee with 42 seconds left.
Nate Rassel led the MMC defense with 10 tackles, followed by Dylan Rolfes six, Connor Holmes five, and Jared Gross and Justin Theisen four apiece.
Of special meaning to the new State Champions was the impact their late teammate Sawyer Leavitt had on this band of Eagles. Leavitt was killed in a car crash in September, 2011 and his teammates dedicated this season to the former two-way starting lineman.
"We knew we could do it with the help of Sawyer," said Utesch after the game. "He got us here."
"Once our defense stepped up, our offense followed suit and it worked out well," noted first-year MMC coach Kyle Oswald, who played 8-man football in Nebraska as a prep.
Don Bosco coach Colby Yoder said the MMC defense was the difference in the game. "We couldn't get any momentum rolling at all," said Yoder. "You've got to give them credit. They came to play."