Several firsts were achieved Friday night at Dodger Stadium by the St. Edmond football team.
The Gaels advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history, besting South O'Brien, 42-3.
It marked the first 12-win season ever for the program, and also for legendary head coach Dick Tighe.
Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
St. Edmond’s Matthew Bocken (14)?and Hank Crimmins (42) combine to make a tackle against South O’Brien in the Class 2A?state football quarterfinal round on Friday night. For more photos, visit CU?at www.messengernews.net
Tighe, who now owns 412 career victories, will lead a group of young men to the UNI-Dome and Cedar Falls for the first time as the sole head coach.
"I've made it before, but that was in a sharing role (as co-coach) at Iowa Falls," he said. "This time, I'll only be sharing it with my players."
Tighe never looked past any opponent on the road to the final four, but he also didn't understate the obvious.
There would be no perennial power like Emmetsburg or Aplington-Parkersburg standing in St. Edmond's way of making history.
"What a golden opportunity we were presented," he said. "And you know what? To the credit of these kids, who never looked ahead, we took advantage.
"Hey, if we didn't come out and play well and we lost, it would have been on us. Instead, we came out, executed and now we are in the semifinals."
Tighe's coaching staff has remained relatively intact since he returned to the school he once led many moons ago. Assistants Pat Schomberg and Cory Naughton have been with him throughout, along with Justin Faiferlick and Jacob Short.
Naughton didn't let the moment pass him by, as Tighe told the Gaels to take one final look at the scoreboard.
"He told them that the next time they look at a scoreboard, it will be in the UNI-Dome, and you could just see the shine in his eye," Naughton said. "He was walking pretty lightly after (Friday's game).
"He's meant a lot to this school and this program, and the players really look to him as a leader."
In a time when spread offenses and throwing the ball is all the rage, Tighe has remained true to "old" ways:?run the football, play solid defense and punt when the field position isn't there.
"The trust that Dick has in the defense is something a lot of coaches don't have anymore," said Schomberg, a head coach previously at St. Edmond. "He'll kick the ball away and trust in us to make a play.
"I don't know if it's just been luck or what, but we've come up with some pretty big plays on defense this year."
St. Edmond forced key turnovers in a comeback victory over Manson Northwest Webster in the second round, and they did it again Friday night.
Two interceptions and two fumble recoveries helped keep South O'Brien out of the end zone and provide the Gaels with their 10th game this season of allowing nine points or less.
Tighe remained true to form when asked what it meant to reach the semifinals, not wanting to take anything away from his players.
"It doesn't mean anything to me," he scoffed. "This is all about these kids and seeing the joy on their face when we won this game.
"That's what it's all about, and that's what it's always been about."