CEDAR FALLS — Don Bosco’s season of dominance, marked by continuous clock second halves and a pair of wins by forfeit, was capped with what began as a stiff challenge in week 13.
Thursday morning’s 8-player championship game test was one Don Bosco fully embraced. After leading by two points throughout the majority of the first half, the Dons imposed their will on fellow unbeaten Remsen St. Mary’s, 52-14, for the program’s third state title in five trips to the finals over the past six seasons.
“Remsen is an excellent football team and I think our conditioning really paid off second half,” said Colby Yoder, the coach throughout Don Bosco’s rise. “I think we got them a little tired. One question coming into the game for us was our conditioning.
“We talk about playing 48 minutes all the time. These guys don’t care what the score is, they’re just going to keep playing football. That’s what they’ve done all year.”
This championship game marked a mission fulfilled for Don Bosco’s senior playmaker Wyatt Sawvel. He joined the ranks of two other talented quarterbacks that capped their careers by leading the Dons to titles.
Sawvel recorded an interception in the end zone off a dropped pass on St. Mary’s opening drive, and then raced 55-yards to set us his first of three touchdown runs. The Dons’ quarterback finished this contest with 28 carries for 188 yards, and capped his senior season with 1,407 yards passing and 1,388 rushing in 11 contested games.
“I had some goals at the beginning of the year,” Sawvel said. “There’s a couple other guys in Bosco history that senior year have led their team to a championship. I wanted to do that, and got it done.”
Separation was found for Don Bosco (13-0) when Kendall Becker beat coverage deep and Sawvel hit him in stride over 30-yards downfield on a 39-yard pass play for a touchdown with five seconds left until halftime.
“We know that 8-6 was too close,” Sawvel said. “We knew that we needed a big play. Kendall had him beat a little bit, and I put it out there and just let him go get it.”
The Dons then put together a physical 13-play, 60-yard scoring drive in the third quarter capped by a 2-yard Sawvel fourth-down touchdown run.
“That right there showed the other team that we’re not going to fold and we’re going to finish this game,” Sawvel added.
Like so many of Don Bosco’s previous opponents, Remsen St. Mary’s (11-1) sputtered in attempt to catch up.
Thomas Even returned an under-thrown interception 19 yards for a Don Bosco touchdown, and on the Hawks’ ensuing drive, Austin Svoboda recovered a fumbled snap at the goal line and punched in a 1-yard scoring run. In total, Don Bosco scored three touchdowns over 1 minute, 34 seconds to extend a 10-point lead to 30.
“We were always playing catch-up,” St. Mary’s coach Ryan Hajek said. “When you do that against a team like Don Bosco it’s just tough to get back in those games.
“We were limited on our big plays and they had a ton of big plays on their side. You can’t give a good team all those big plays and expect to win.”
St. Mary’s certainly had opportunities early. In addition to the pass that was dropped in the end zone, star running back Canaan Cox also dropped a wide open pass in the second quarter that would have gone for six.
The lone touchdown Don Bosco’s defense surrendered in the first half came on a wild fourth-down play. Quarterback Derrick Schorg dodged a pair of sack attempts, pitched forward to Brody Ricke who then fumbled only for teammate Matthew Begnoche to scoop the ball up and take it the final 3-yards to paydirt.
Aside from that, it was a lockdown effort throughout the majority of the game. Even, a sophomore, led the charge with 11 solo tackles, four for loss, and an interception.
Cox, a 2,000-yard rusher, was held to 53 yards on 22 carries. Schorg passed for 187 yards and two scores, but threw four interceptions, including one Lewis Havel picked off at the goal line prior to the late first half touchdown.
“I’ve got to tip my hat to my defense,” Yoder said. “The last four weeks they’ve really stepped up and kept us in some football games for sure.”
State championship banner draped down his back to form a cape after the win, Even now represents part of a bright future within this 8-player dynasty. He credits the support of his senior teammates, encouraging him to continually invest the time in the weight room to become a champion.
“It feels amazing,” Even said. “I’m only a sophomore and I have two championships and champions surround me. I just can’t wait to see what the future holds for Don Bosco.”
Added Sawvel, “Everyone works hard, everyone is dedicated. We all put time in, in the weight room. It was probably the best team I’ve ever played on.”
Don Bosco 52, St. Mary’s 14
Remsen St. Mary’s 6 0 0 8 — 14
Don Bosco 8 8 20 16 — 52
DB — Wyatt Sawvel 1 run (Sawvel run)
RSM — Matthew Begnoche 3 fumble return (run failed)
DB — Kendall Becker 39 pass from Wyatt Sawvel (Sawvel run)
DB — Sawvel 2 run (run failed)
DB — Thomas Even 19 interception return (pass failed)
DB — Austin Svoboda 1 run (Cael Tenold from Sawvel)
DB — Sawvel 15 run (Austin Helman run)
RSM — Kenny Bohnenkamp 18 pass from Derrick Schorg (Carter Kuchel from Schorg)
DB — Even 26 run (Even run)
First downs 14 15
Rushes-yards 35-25 52-307
Comp-att-int 16-29-4 2-7-0
Passing yards 187 45
Punts-avg 4-42.5 3-32.3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-39 5-49
REMSEN ST. MARY’S — Canaan Cox 22-53, Tyler Brimm 5-11, Will Galles 1-1, Marcus Konopasek 2-1, Carter Kuchel 1-minus 5, Derrick Schorg 4-minus 36.
DON BOSCO — Wyatt Sawvel 28-188, Austin Svoboda 14-61, Thomas Even 5-48, Austin Hellman 4-15, Cael Tenold 1-minus 5.
REMSEN ST. MARY’S — Schorg 16-29-4, 187 yards.
DON BOSCO — Sawvel 2-7-0, 45 yards.
REMSEN ST. MARY’S — Kuchel 5-82, Cox 5-26, Kenny Bohnenkamp 4-55, Brody Ricke 2-21, Matthew Begnoche 0-3.
DON BOSCO — Kendall Becker 1-39, Svoboda 1-6