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E-Hawks ready for state semis

November 10, 2012
By JOSH MEYER - Messenger Sports Writer (sports@messengernews.net) , Messenger News

CEDAR FALLS - No. 3 Emmetsburg is hoping recent history won't repeat itself this afternoon.

Seeking their 10th state football crown, the tradition-rich E-Hawks (11-1 overall) will battle eighth-rated Council Bluffs St. Albert (11-1) in a Class 1A semifinal.

Kickoff is set for 1:06 p.m. inside the UNI-Dome.

Last year, Emmetsburg was denied a trip to the title round by the perennial power Falcons, dropping a 24-6 decision.

The District 1 champion E-Hawks, who boast an impressive 72-27 record in an Iowa best 37 all-time playoff appearances, have looked nearly invincible during their current postseason run, earning dominant wins over Ridge View (41-0), No. 5 St. Edmond (28-0) and fourth-rated IKM-Manning (55-7).

"We need to play well up front both offensively and defensively," EHS head coach Mike Dunlap said. "We've continued to improve throughout the season."

Fact Box

THE SEASONS

Emmetsburg (11-1)

E-Hawks 46, Spencer 21

E-Hawks 14, BH-R. Vall. 34

E-Hawks 59, North Union 6

E-Hawks 72, Okoboji 13

E-Hawks 43, Manson NW 21

E-Hawks 40, W. Christian 7

E-Hawks 42, Hartley-HMS?0

E-Hawks 51, S. O'Brien 0

E-Hawks 47, Gehlen 14

E-Hawks 41, Ridge View 0

E-Hawks 28, St. Edmond 0

E-Hawks 55, IKM-Manning 7

CB St. Albert (11-1)

Falcons 41, Griswold 7

Falcons 0, Lewis Central 48

Falcons 41, Panorama 0

Falcons 62, W.C. Valley 7

Falcons 38, TC?Neola 27

Falcons 44, Treynor 6

Falcons 62, Red Oak 13

Falcons 51, Nod. Valley 7

Falcons 70, Miss. Valley 14

Falcons 42, Pella Christian 7

Falcons 42, Van Meter 7

Falcons 28, Mount Ayr 0

One major factor for Emmetsburg's success again this fall has been the consistency of its punishing ground attack, which ranks first in the state in yards (5,007). The E-Hawks, who are averaging a whopping 448.8 yards and 44.8 points per game, also lead 1A in points scored (538) and rushing touchdowns (69) and are second in total offense (5,386 yards).

Since suffering a 34-14 home setback to No. 1 (2A) Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley in Week 2, Emmetsburg has reeled off 10 straight victories.

Andrew Wellik, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior tailback, has been the offensive focal point for the E-Hawks, racking up a state-high 2,648 yards and 37 scores on the ground for an 11.2-yard average per attempt. Wellik has delivered at least 140 yards in all but one game this season, including seven with at least 220.

Junior Allen Jensen (82 carries, 581 yards, 7 TD), senior Cody Henderson (64-424-2) and junior Brady Christensen (23-272-8) have each shined when called upon as well for Emmetsburg.

Quarterback Jake Jackson, a EHS senior, has thrown for 379 yards with seven endzone strikes and one interception. Classmate Nick Schany has been his primary target, hauling in 10 grabs for 216 yards and four scores.

Defensively, the stifling E-Hawks are allowing just over 10 points a night, have pitched four shutouts and forced 33 turnovers. Senior linebacker Austin McCartan anchors Emmetsburg with 108 tackles, including nine for loss. Jackson has also managed a state-best 10 picks from his secondary position.

St. Albert, which owns a 44-19 all-time mark in the postseason, is making its 16th consecutive playoff venture and 24th in program history. The District 8 champion Falcons easily ousted Pella Christian (42-7), Van Meter (42-7) and seventh-rated Mount Ayr (28-0) en route to the UNI-Dome. Defending state runner-up St. Albert, whose lone blemish was a 48-0 Week 2 rout to crosstown rival and eventual 3A state quarterfinalist Lewis Central, ranks second in 1A in scoring (521 points), seventh in rushing yards (3,121) and ninth in total offense (3,913 yards).

"(The Falcons) are a very talented team with tremendous athletes on both sides of the ball," said Dunlap. "They're just as talented as they were last year if not more so."

Cole Herr (109-742-16), Tucker Culjat (85-592-10), Jacob Bendgen (91-595-5) and Isaac Finn (36-557-7) form a dangerous backfield quartet for the Falcons, who previously captured 1A state titles in 2004, '06, '07 and '09.

Culjat has also gone 45-for-82 through the air for 640 yards, 12 touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. John Meyerring has been the go-to receiver, pulling down 16 catches for 162 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kevin Culjat's St. Albert squad is yielding 11.9 points per contest, has blanked two opponents and notched 31 takeaways.

No. 1 and two-time reigning 2A state champion Iowa City Regina (12-0) will face second-ranked Dike-New Hartford (12-0) in today's other 1A semifinal at 10:06 a.m. The 1A championship game is set for Friday at 11:06 a.m.