Just one game separated the Class 4A tenth-ranked Waukee High School football team from the UNI-Dome and the state tournament Friday, Nov. 8 in West Des Moines.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was an extremely tough outing as they fell short with a 26-10 quarterfinal loss to West Des Moines Valley. It was one of those odd nights where the offense led Valley with 373 yards of total offense compared to 321 for the Tigers. Ultimately it was quite the battle across both sides with Waukee taking the passing crown with 243 passing yards while Valley led the way on the ground with 157 rushing yards.
One of the main points of emphasis for Warrior head coach Scott Carlson was a fast start and that’s exactly what his team did as Cade Tjaden connected on a 32-yard field goal just over two minutes into the contest for a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Warriors, that momentum was short-lived as the host Tigers connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass to take the lead 6-3 which marked the end of the only lead Waukee claimed throughout the game. Waukee had their shots but couldn’t find enough momentum to find the endzone, producing a scoreless second quarter for just the second time all season. Aside from the nine total points produced across both teams, that would be all the first half could muster with both teams entering the halftime break with a 6-3 Valley lead.
Waukee came out of the gates rather slow in the second half and was held without a score in the third quarter as well. Meanwhile, the host Tigers captured a score and led the Warriors by a 13-3 mark heading into the fourth and final quarter. Valley too had several shots to capture more third-quarter points but the strength of the Waukee defense held strong and kept the Warriors in the game entering the final frame of the game.
For the most part, the Warriors did a solid job of limiting the production of star Valley runningback Creighton Mitchell but come the fourth quarter, the senior scorched Waukee for two scores to put Waukee in an even bigger deficit. Mitchell found the end-zone with 11:47 left in the game to increase the Valley lead to 20-3 and then found the end-zone once more on a 22-yard run to leave Waukee with a 26-3 deficit with just five minutes left in the game. The Warriors did battle back and found the end-zone for the first time in the contest when quarterback Mitch Randall connected with fellow senior Sam O’Dell for a seven-yard score, cutting the deficit to a 26-10 mark. Unfortunately from there, the Warriors saw their season come to a close as the host Tigers ran out the clock, giving Waukee a 26-10 defeat. The loss marks the second straight season of falling just one game shy of the state semi-final round and effectively concluded the Warrior record at 7-4.
It is well worth noting that the Waukee defense hadn’t allowed 500 total yards in a single game, including Friday night’s contest. As of Friday itself, the Warrior defense became one of just a couple defenses all season long to hold the Tigers under their average yards per game mark. That meant holding Valley to 322 yards of total offense under their 388 total yard average.
The Warriors ended their season as the top-ranked team with three or more losses while averaging 8.1 yards per play with an average of four touchdowns per contest.