EAGLE GROVE - Legendary head coach Dick Tighe received exactly what he wanted for his 83rd birthday gift here Friday - another St. Edmond victory.
Wrapping up just their fourth-ever unbeaten regular season in style, the No. 5 Gaels (9-0 overall) trounced non-district foe Eagle Grove by a 48-7 final.
Due to the 35-point differential rule, the clock ran continuously throughout the second half.
Sophomore T.J. O'Tool sparked SEHS with a 137 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, while senior Vinnie Harvey delivered 110 yards and found paydirt twice.
St. Edmond jumped out to a 34-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Six of the seven Gael scoring drives on the evening came in four plays or less.
"That was a nice birthday present to finish undefeated before heading into the playoffs," said Tighe, who earned career win No. 409 last night. " Offensively, we did our usual stuff and were able to move the ball well on the ground.
"We even got some of our JV kids into the game, which is what we had hoped to do going in."
Making its eighth postseason appearance since 2004, SEHS will now host Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (4-5) in a Class 1A first-round playoff game Wednesday at 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium. The Hawks dropped a 40-18 decision to Sheldon Friday.
"At 9-0, we couldn't ask to be in a better position right now," Tighe said. "We just need to keep playing hard and taking it one game at a time."
Quarterback Matthew Bocken, a St. Edmond junior, also connected with classmate Landon Peed on a 52-yard TD strike late in the opening period. Michael Faiferlick and Logan Fear contributed TD jaunts of 11 and 2 yards, respectively. O'Tool added a two-point conversion run.
Despite losing four fumbles, including three inside the Eagle five-yard line, the Gaels forced five takeaways, upping their season's total to 21. For a second straight game, St. Edmond never punted.
"I don't like all those fumbles, but at least we were able to get some (turnovers) back," said Tighe. "We can still sharpen up a few things and become more consistent in all areas."
Caelan Burbank, Konrad Laufersweiler and Peed all recovered fumbles for St. Edmond, while Raff Naughton, Chad Remsburg, Eric Kremer and Harvey each posted sacks. Peed also had a pair of picks.
On Senior Night, Eagle Grove spoiled St. Edmond's bid for a fourth shutout this year when Devon Omvig hooked up with Zach Ploeger on a 12-yard touchdown pass with just 23 seconds remaining in the contest.
Miguel Pacheco ran 16 times for 84 yards for the Eagles (0-9), who saw their losing streak reach 19 games. Omvig went 7-for-15 through the air for 70 yards - all going to Ploeger.
Ploeger, Pacheco, Josh Morris, Jake Wilde, Derek Hammitt, Tyler Vorrie, Dylan Thielen, Clayton Foster and Kolton McCutcheon each closed out their Eagle Grove careers on the gridiron.
"Our season didn't go the way we wanted it to, but our seniors were a great group and showed a lot of heart and character," said EGHS head coach Kelly Williamson, a former St. Edmond and Manson Northwest Webster assistant. "I'm proud our kids stuck it through. Our football program stands for a lot more than the final score. I want to wish Coach Tighe and the Gaels good luck in the playoffs. They played well here."
Harvey has now produced 1,119 yards and 23 scores on the year - numbers that rank 11th and second among the top single-season marks in school history. The 225-pound fullback has eclipsed the 100-yard barrier on seven occasions this fall.
District 2 champion SEHS has outscored its opponents through nine games by a combined margin of 318-61. The Gaels, who are 27-4 overall since the start of the 2011 campaign, managed their other unbeaten regular seasons in 1978, '83 and '05.
St. Edmond has now prevailed in five straight meetings against the Eagles. Eagle Grove's last win in the series was a 42-0 shutout in 2001.