MAPLETON - St. Edmond and Maple Valley Anthon-Oto entered Friday night's Class 1A, District 2 opener with identical 2-0 overall records on the season.
Following 48 minutes of a lopsided affair, the football teams now appear to be headed in completely opposite directions.
Executing near perfectly on offense throughout, the second-ranked Gaels imposed their will in a 56-20 drubbing of the Rams at Bill Mac Field.
Alex Mericle, a 195-pound senior tailback, continued to be the focal point in the punishing SEHS ground charge with a career-high 191 yards on 37 carries. Mericle also set a new single-game program record with six rushing touchdowns, finding paydirt from 4, 24, 1, 5, 2 and 2 yards out, respectively.
"That was Coach (Dick) Tighe football right there," said Mericle, who has registered 493 rushing yards and reached the endzone seven times on the season. "Our blocking up front was great again, and I wanted the ball more and more as the game went on.
"With this being our first district game, we knew how important (winning) it was."
St. Edmond 7 21 21 7 - 56
MVAO 6 8 0 6 - 20
Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto - Derik Bailey (1-yard run), 8:59 left first. Kick failed.
St. Edmond - Alex Mericle (4-yard run), 3:37 left first. Aaron McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (24-yard run), 11:52 left second. McElroy kick.
Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto - Ryan Dougherty (24-yard run), 9:34 left second. Dougherty conversion run.
St. Edmond - Mericle (1-yard run), 4:50 left second. McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - McElroy (24-yard pass from David Flattery), :53 left second. McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (5-yard run), 9:16 left third. McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - McElroy (37-yard run), 8:00 left third. McElroy kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (2-yard run), 4:21 left third. McElroy kick.
Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto - Brody Kafton (25-yard pass from Tanner Petersen), 10:41 left fourth. Conversion pass failed.
St. Edmond - Mericle (2-yard run), 4:00 left fourth. McElroy kick.
RUSHING - St. Edmond: Alex Mericle 37-191, Matt Stumpf 3-68, Aaron McElroy 3-38, Vinnie Harvey 12-37, David Flattery 2-11, Nick Hindt 2-2, Michael Faiferlick 2-0. Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto: Ryan Dougherty 15-72, Brody Kafton 7-64, Derik Bailey 6-24, Kyle Hardisty 2-12, Team 1-(minus-2).
PASSING - St. Edmond: Flattery 4-5-0-96. Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto: Dougherty 10-22-1-99, Tanner Petersen 1-1-0-24.
RECEIVING - St. Edmond: Landon Peed 2-64, McElroy 1-24, Mericle 1-8. Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto: Hardisty 3-43, Petersen 3-30, Kafton 1-24, Shane Dancso 1-15, Charlie Spatz 2-7, Bailey 1-4.
"I thought Flattery had his best game of the year," Tighe said. "It was encouraging to see us be able to pass the ball a little more effectively (Friday)."
Matt Stumpf added 68 yards rushing on just three totes for St. Edmond, which accumlated 443 yards of total offense, including 347 on the ground. The Gaels punted only once on the evening.
"We seemed to wear (the Rams) down a little bit as the night went on," said Tighe. "Give them credit, though, because they were faster than they looked on video."
Defensively, the Gaels received a sack and fumble recovery from senior tackle Dillon Nelson. Stumpf also came up with an interception from his cornerback spot, upping St. Edmond's season total in takeaways to 11.
"Hopefully, we can build off this win and gain some more momentum heading into next week," Tighe said.
Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto, which came in averaging 516 yards of total offense, was limited to only 293. Signal-caller Ryan Dougherty provided a bright spot for the home squad with 72 yards on 15 carries. Dougherty completed 10 of 22 passes as well for 99 yards.
Friday's game was briefly halted with 3:30 left in the opening quarter when MV-A-O junior Bryce Hatler suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury and was taken off the field by ambulance.
St. Edmond welcomes Pocahontas Area next Friday.
Aaron McElroy, another senior, delivered the other Gael scores. McElroy hauled in a 24-yard touchdown strike from classmate quarterback David Flattery late in the second quarter, while eventually scampering 37 yards to paydirt in the third period. McElroy also went a perfect 8-for-8 on PAT attempts.
"After kind of a slow start (SEHS actually fell behind 6-0 on MV-A-O's initial drive of the contest), I was happy with how we were able to move the ball against (the Ram defense)," said Tighe, who earned his 393rd career victory last evening. "It took us awhile to adjust to what they were doing offensively after getting used to going toe-to-toe against more run-oriented teams like Bishop Garrigan and Mason City Newman in the first two weeks."
Flattery went an efficient 4-for-5 through the air as well for 96 yards. Landon Peed was his favorite target with a pair of catches for 64 yards. Peed also returned a kickoff 66 yards in the second half.