The sixth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond football team closed out their 2012 regular season in near-perfect fashion Friday night, shutting out Eagle Grove, 35-0.
The Gaels (8-1 overall) will return to Dodger Stadium next Wednesday night in a substate opener vs. Hull Western Christian (4-5) at 7 p.m.
St. Edmond relied on its workhorse running back duo of Alex Mericle and Vinnie Harvey, as both went over the 100-yard mark. Mericle, who moved into sixth on the all-time rushing charts, set a new single-season touchdown mark with three scores last night.
Mericle ran for 116 yards on 18 carries, pushing his TD total to 24 this season. He has 1,483 yards this year - the third-best single-season mark - and 2,130 for his career, which places him sixth.
"Alex is such a gamer," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who earned career victory No. 399. "He's been battling an injury, but he never wants to come out. He's really had a great year after moving over from fullback to tailback, not skipping a beat at all."
Harvey added 104 yards on 14 carries and a score, as Tighe said, "we were really able to establish him inside for the first time this year with a great deal of success."
St. Edmond7 21 7 0- 35
Eagle Grove0 0 0 0-0
St. Edmond - Alex Mericle (11-yard run), 8:20 left in first. David Flattery kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (15-yard run), 11:07 left in second. Flattery kick.
St. Edmond - Vinnie Harvey (15-yard run), 5:07 left in second. Flattery kick.
St. Edmond - Landon Peed (22-yard pass from Flattery), :53 left in second. Mericle kick.
St. Edmond - Mericle (2-yard run), 8:24 left in third. Flattery kick.
Rushing - St. Edmond: Alex Mericle 18-116, Vinnie Harvey 14-104, Matt Stumpf 2-27, Michael Faiferlick 6-23, David Flattery 1-12, Jimmy Averill 1-1. Eagle Grove: Brandon Johnson 19-77, Miguel Pacheco 16-67, Brennon Cameron 6-13, Brenton Pohlman 2-4.
Passing - St. Edmond: Flattery 2-4-0-36, Matthew Bocken 0-0-0-0. Eagle Grove: Johnson 2-7-1-14.
Receiving - St. Edmond: Landon Peed 2-36. Eagle Grove: Chris Monley 2-14.
The Gael defense earned their third shutout of the year, limiting Eagle (0-9) standout Brandon Johnson to just 91 yards of total offense.
"Johnson is a very good player, and they hurt us a bit with that back early in the game," Tighe said. "Our defense stepped up when they started to drive the ball a little, and I know coach (Pat) Schomberg was happy to get the shutout."
Over the last two seasons, the St. Edmond defense has caused 51 takeaways. Landon Peed had an interception, while Teddie Harvey recorded 13 tackles and Hank Lentsch had eight.
The first two scoring drives for the Gaels were efficient, as they ran five plays over 36 yards for the opening score, before going 56 yards on nine plays for the second. Mericle finished both off, hitting paydirt from 11 and 15 yards out.
St. Edmond's third and fourth drives of the first half also resulted in scores, including a spectacular 22-yard TD pass to Peed from David Flattery in the corner of the end zone. Flattery scrambled to his right and floated a perfect pass to the sophomore, who hauled it in over Johnson.
"We've been working a little more on our passing game these past few weeks," Tighe said. "We didn't need it much (Friday night), but we might here in the postseason, so it was good to keep David sharp."
The Gaels put the final score on the board with their fifth possession of the evening, as Mericle set the record with a 2-yard plunge.
St. Edmond has now won 67 games since 2004, including five seasons with at least eight victories.