It’s a dream of nearly every Iowa high school football player to make it to the “Dome.” For many, just gracing Cedar Falls is a slight dream come true but for the Van Meter Bulldogs, it’s just another rung in the ladder.
Van Meter continued to climb that ladder Saturday, Nov. 16 as they bested Iowa City Regina by a 49-17 final. The Bulldog offense continued on their same dominant pathway as they touched up at least two scores in three out of the four quarters and totaled a combined 473 total yards of offense. That mark of 473 total yards tied for the most ever by a Bulldog squad in playoff action. The Bulldogs have rarely faced a deficit which continued Saturday and those 473 total yards helped mark the 37th-straight game Van Meter has produced more offensive yards than their opponents. Meanwhile, their 32-point margin of victory was the greatest by a Bulldog team against a ranked opponent in program history.
It was more of the same dominating rushing attack that led the Bulldogs to capture 305 of their 473 yards on the ground. Five of their scores came on the ground, including their first end-zone trip of the game, which saw signal-caller Anthony Potthoff scamper 18-yards for the 7-0 lead with 5:37 left in the first quarter. That began what would end up as an impressive day for the senior. Through the air, Potthoff completed 80 percent of his passes while averaging 15.3 yards per rush marking a career-high rushing mark by the senior. In total, Potthoff was responsible for 306 yards of offense. As much of a highlight as Potthoff was, it was an all-around performance by the entire offense that did the trick and one that had head coach Eric Trudo very pleased.
“It was a total team effort no question,” began Trudo. “The offense executed very well and everyone stuck to their assignments extremely well.”
After Iowa City Regina cut the lead to four after a field goal, the Bulldogs took just over one minute to answer with another score of their own. It was Potthoff connecting on a 63-yard strike to Parker Fryar that rounded out the first-quarter scoring and gave Van Meter a 14-3 lead entering the second quarter.
The Bulldogs struck first yet again in the second quarter, taking just one play to drive 52 yards on a pitch and catch from Potthoff to Blade Koons for a 21-3 lead with 9:54 left in the first half. That score not only represented an 18 point lead but represented another aspect for Van Meter that was also firing on all cylinders.
“A big help came from our special teams, they continually put us in good situations,” said Trudo. “We play a lot of kids and they understand that they have to put 100 percent effort in and we say that. Everyone has a role to play and our special teams rose to the occasion.”
Regina made it a game when they answered Van Meter with a touchdown with six minutes left in the half to cut the score down to 21-10. Unfortunately for the Iowa City Regina crowd, the Bulldogs once again answered back just over one minute later. Anthony Potthoff broke free for a 62-yard score, one of four scoring drives that came in three plays or less.
Van Meter posted two more scores in the third quarter, starting with a Potthoff 13-yard touchdown run, which capped off their longest scoring drive of the game with 12 plays and 78-yards. Carter Durflinger had a strong presence in the game as well, highlighted by two scores for the contest. The first of which came with 1:45 left in the third quarter on a six-yard touchdown run. The freshman captured his third career touchdown to finalize the scoring efforts for Van Meter on a two-yard touchdown score.
Regina managed one more score on the Bulldog defense but by that time, it was too late and Van Meter rode the rest of the way to a 49-17 victory. The win officially marks Van Meter’s return to the state title game for the second time in the past three seasons. Now lies one final challenge for the Bulldogs, a challenge that understandably could be their toughest test yet.
West Lyon averages over 18 yards per completion and 7.1 yards per rush, both top-five marks within Class 1A. A big reason behind the potent offense lies with quarterback Jalyn Gramstad who has tossed 1,444 yards through the air for 16 touchdowns and 803 yards on the ground with 11 scores. The senior presents one of the biggest challenges the Bulldog defense has seen all season.
“They do a lot offensively and their quarterback may be the most athletic quarterback we’ve faced all season,” said Trudo. “They have some very talented running-backs as well so we have quite the challenge ahead of us.”
The Bulldogs will now take on said title game on Friday, Nov. 22 where they will battle West Lyon at 10 a.m.