Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Despite what the scoreboard said Dillon Shephard wanted redemption.
West High escaped the UNI-Dome with a 32-31 overtime win over Cedar Falls back on Sept. 8 and while the final outcome was what Shephard and his teammates on the defensive line were looking for the performance was not what they wanted.
“We knew we had a bad game and we really wanted to improve on it,” Shephard said. “We really felt like it was our fault that the first game was that close of a game.”
When Shephard and the Trojans got a second chance against the Tigers in the Class 4A quarterfinals last week they turned in a performance more up to their standards.
West High limited fifth-ranked Cedar Falls to a season-low nine points, more than 36 points below its season average in a 27-9 win and Shephard and his defensive line mates were a big reason for that success.
“That was one of our best games for sure,” Shephard said. “We showed our depth I think and it was a great game for us.”
Shephard was quick to admit the West High defensive line was caught off guard in the week three contest in Cedar Falls.
Facing a Cedar Falls squad with a big, physical offensive line and a reputation as a downhill run team Shephard and his teammates were geared to stop the run.
Instead the Tigers came out throwing and completed 23-of-35 passes for 360 yards.
West High failed to record a sack in that first meeting while allowing season-highs in points with 31 and total yards with 466.
“We were surprised for sure,” Shephard said. “We didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback and we worked all week on that.”
The quarterfinal rematch was a much different story.
Shephard had two of six West High sacks as the Trojans held Cedar Falls to 289 total yards and just 112 through the air.
“That’s what a football season is it’s a process and we were not where we wanted to be week 3, we got the win but we were not where we wanted to be in week three,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “Week 11 that is exactly how we expected the defensive line to play and I was very proud of their progress.”
Just as he has been all season, Shephard was at the heart of a West High defensive effort that held the Tigers to a season-low yardage total.
Shephard had three of his five tackles against Cedar Falls behind the line of scrimmage including a pair of sacks.
“He has been a three-year starter and he is a very quiet, soft-spoken kid but he is tougher than hell,” Hartwig said. “He is one of many unsung heroes on that defense and on this team.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Shephard ranks fourth on the team with 31 tackles and leads West High with seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
In a pair of playoff wins against strong offensive lines from Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Falls Shephard has three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss.
“I like being challenged and showing that I can compete,” Shephard said. “It’s definitely a nice challenge to be undersized and compete with those lines it shows that we have skill and can compete with anyone in the state.”