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CEDAR FALLS – Evan Flitz and the West High offense did enough on Friday to put the Trojans in position to play for a state title.
The West High defense took care of the rest.
West High held fourth-ranked Bettendorf (10-2) under 100 yards of total offense and posted the first shutout in a Class 4A semifinal since 2000 as the Trojans returned to the 4A title game for the second straight season with a 23-0 win over the Bulldogs at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“Those guys were outstanding tonight,” Flitz said of the Trojan defense. “They didn’t keep us in the game, they were doing such a good job they were keeping us ahead in the game.”
Flitz was brilliant, throwing for 282 yards and two scores but Friday was all about the West High defense.
The Trojans allowed just six first downs and held Bettendorf to season-lows in total yards (98) and rushing yards (54) in its first playoff shutout since 2014.
“When you shut out a good team that’s when it feels the best,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “And that’s a good football team.”
West High did it all on defense Friday to secure the second back-to-back title game appearances in program history and first since 1998 and 1999.
The Trojans intercepted Bettendorf quarterback Carter Bell twice, his first two interceptions of the season, and forced four turnovers from a Bulldog offense that turned it over three times in its first 11 games.
West High held a normally potent Bulldog rushing attack that entered averaging 7.2 yards per carry to 1.7 yards per try on 31 attempts.
“This is definitely one of our best defensive games especially in the state semifinals to hold them to zero, and force a couple of turnovers,” West High senior linebacker Caden Fedeler said. “We gave up some big plays so it still wasn’t perfect but this was as good as we’ve been.”
West High wasn’t far from perfection on Friday while earning a title game rematch with four-time defending state champion West Des Moines Dowling (11-1) next Friday.
West High became the first team to post a shutout in a 4A semifinal since Bettendorf blanked City High 21-0 in 2000 to return to the state title game for the second straight season.
It was the first time Bettendorf was shutout since 2012.
“We don’t really talk about it we just want to play a good game and putting up a zero comes with that,” West High senior defensive back Austin West said. “We’ve been close in some games before and given up some late touchdowns so it was nice to keep that zero up on the board.”
Trumell Roberts spun out of a pile in the middle of the field and darted 37 yards down the sideline to put West High up 6-0 with 7:40 left in the first quarter.
Roberts posted his third consecutive 100-yard game in the playoffs, finishing with 108 yards on 17 carries
“Don’t stop playing until the whistle blows, go your hardest until the whistle blows that’s all that was going through my mind,” Roberts said. “I just kept running, I saw the opening an I hit it.”
The early touchdown run by Roberts provided all the offense West High would need.
West High came up with big play after big play on defense to stymy Bettendorf and make up for three turnovers from the Trojan offense.
“Our entire defensive line was making plays,” Flitz said. “They were putting pressure on a really good quarterback and making him throw the ball up and our DBs made plays which I expect. They are great athletes with great football IQs.”
Trailing 9-0 Bettendorf had a chance to seize momentum before the half when it pounced on a muff punt at the Trojan 38 with 2:36 left.
Bettendorf moved to the West High 27 yard line but West stepped in front of a Bell pass for an interception to end the threat.
“I was freed up and I noticed earlier in the game he liked to hit that mid-level out route or run it,” West said. “I just kind of read his eyes and he threw it and I had the opportunity to make a play.”
Still trailing 9-0 Bettendorf had its best scoring opportunity of the game when Josh Licata picked off Flitz and returned it to the Trojan 20.
Two plays later Bettendorf had a 1st and goal at the Trojan 6 but lost a fumble and Cole Mabry recovered.
“I think the defensive line, the linebackers the defensive backs all had great games,” West said. “We were getting after the quarterback so he was forced to run around a little bit and our linebackers filled holes and our back end kept big plays to a minimum.”
On the first possession after throwing his fourth interception of the season Flitz completed 4-of-5 passes on a 7-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 43-yard strike to West.
Flitz finished 21-of-28 for 282 yards a pair of touchdowns, capping the win with a 27-yard strike to Austin Geasland with 3:23 to play.
“We neutralized guys the best we could and played well up front and just put the ball in number 10’s hands and let him throw it to who he wanted,” Hartwig said. “We just let him pick his number to throw to.”
West High has won 19 of its last 20 games dating back to last season with the lone loss a 23-10 setback to West Des Moines Dowling in last year’s title game.
The Trojans will get a chance to avenge that loss next Friday.
“It’s a total team effort man. It comes back to these kids never having an ego. It’s never about me with these guys ever. It’s a team game and these guys are the ultimate team players.”
First Downs 19 6
Rushes-Yards 31-135 31-54
Comp-Att-Int 21-28-1 6-17-2
Passing Yards 282 44
Punts-Avg. 3-38 8-40.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-55 3-15
West High 9 0 7 7 – 23
Bettendorf 0 0 0 0 – 0
ICW – Trumell Roberts 37 run (Kick blocked)
ICW – Karwal 35 Field Goal
ICW – Austin West 43 pass from Evan Flitz (Karwal kick)
ICW – Austin Geasland 27 pass from Flitz (Karwal kick)
RUSHING – ICW: Trumell Roberts 17-108, Owen McAreavy 6-27, Evan Flitz 6-3, Team 2-(-3). BET: Carter Bell 4-35, Nijel McIntosh 13-21, Ben Wilson 2-7, Darien Porter 1-(-9).
PASSING – ICW: Evan Flitz 21-28-1 282. BET: Carter Bell 6-17-2 44.
RECEIVING – ICW: Austin West 4-94, Traevis Buchanan 4-80, Trumell Roberts 5-25, Jalen Gaudet 3-35, Austin Geasland 3-39, Dillon Doyle 2-9. BET: Ben Wilson 2-25, Darien Porter 2-12, Tyler Ciha 1-9, Nijel McIntosh 1-(-2).