Jeff Yoder Photo / iagameday.smugmug.com
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – It could have been the setting or the situation or even the opponent.
Caden Fedeler isn’t positive what triggered his performance in Friday’s state semifinal win over Bettendorf but the West High senior linebacker is sure of one thing, he’s never played better.
Fedeler made a career-high 10 tackles to help top-ranked West High return to the Class 4A title game for the second straight season with a 23-0 win over No. 4 Bettendorf at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“I feel that is probably the best game I’ve played and honestly I don’t know why,” Fedeler said. “Maybe it was just the semifinals and playing in the Dome and subconsciously I felt like I needed to play better and help us make it to the finals. I don’t know.”
Fedeler had 3.5 tackles for loss as West High made eight stops behind the line of scrimmage while holding Bettendorf to a season-low 98 total yards.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Fedeler had 1.5 sacks and recovered a fumble as West High forced four turnovers in its first postseason shutout since 2014.
“Caden was great on Friday night and we were happy but we weren’t surprised,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “He has been right there all year.”
A two-year starter with more than 80 career tackles there had been plenty of strong games by Fedeler over the past two seasons.
He had never been better than he was against the Bulldogs.
Fedeler helped West High hold a Bettendorf offense that entered averaging 235 rushing yards a game and 7.2 yards per carry to 54 yards rushing on 1.7 yards per carry.
“I love those games when teams run it straight at us,” Fedeler said. “With Bettendorf we knew that was what we were going to get, they always have a good line they always have a good running back so we were able to adjust to that.”
In his first season as a varsity starter last fall Fedeler ranked fifth on the team with 44 tackles including 3.5 for loss.
After packing nearly 20 pounds on to his frame during the offseason Fedeler has been even better this season.
Fedeler ranks fourth on the team with 38 tackles this season with 8.5 for loss and two sacks.
“Caden has always been a really good football player but he had one of the best off-seasons you could possibly imagine,” Hartwig said. “He put on 15 or 20 pounds and I think finally his body has caught up to his mental ability to play.”
Led by the career performance from Fedeler it was a defensive performance to remember for West High in the 4A semifinals.
The Trojans allowed Bettendorf just six first downs while downing the Bulldogs in the postseason for the second straight season.
“I remember last year was a great game with them so just knowing it was Bettendorf I think was part of it,” Fedeler said. “We’ve had close games with them and they’ve beaten us a lot so playing them was motivation too.”
Fedeler will try to close his career with an even better performance on Friday when West High (12-0) gets a title game rematch with four-time defending champion West Des Moines Dowling (11-1).
“I’m excited because I get to play football for one more week,” Fedeler said. “I’m excited to be out here just to take reps on kickoff or anything. I just want to play football as long as I can.”