En route to Cedar Falls, excitement filled the air for the Class 1A state football championship game between the West Lyon Wildcats and the top-ranked Van Meter Bulldogs.
Unfortunately for Van Meter and company, they fell short of their goal of two titles in three years as a rough first half aided in the team's eventual state title defeat 50-14. It was actually quite the battle through the first 12:03 of game action. West Lyon kicked off the scoring action with a 40-yard passing score with 3:19 in the first half and giving the white jerseys an early 7-0 lead. A familiar face in Ian Abrahamson graced the field once again, coming back from injury to help the Bulldogs cap off a seven-play, 71-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Even with the overall loss, having Abrahamson back in the lineup was definitely a big plus for the Bulldogs.
“He's a great kid and for him to be back under four weeks from surgery is a tremendous attribute to his character,” said head coach Eric Trudo.
Unfortunately from then on through the first half of play, things didn't run smoothly for the Bulldogs. They ended the half with their largest halftime deficit in well over three seasons and hit the locker rooms facing a 29-7 deficit. The Bulldogs were limited to just five first-half first downs and just 107 yards of total offense, one of their lowest marks all season long. While the Bulldogs did convert all of their red-zone scoring chances in the first half, they only had one trip inside the 20. The Wildcats meanwhile converted on two of their red-zone opportunities plus a two-point safety courtesy of Van Meter backed up at the goal line.
While the Bulldogs found themselves down by such a margin, there still resided plenty of hope for a second-half surge. Unfortunately, more of the same followed in the second half and a large offensive line held the potent Bulldog defense still while a sizeable Wildcat defensive line flustered the Bulldog offense even more. Van Meter couldn't find much in terms of productivity inside the 20-yard line but did manage to find the end-zone once more. It came in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard pitch and catch from Anthony Potthoff to Parker Fryar. That capped off a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
Aside from that drive, the Bulldogs just couldn't find their way offensively and were given quite the challenge defensively. West Lyon continued to put their foot on the throttle and outmatched the Bulldogs across the second half with 160 second-half yards compared to 138 for Van Meter. The reflection on the scoreboard meant outscoring Van Meter 21-7 across the final two quarters.
In the end, the Bulldogs put up 245 yards of total offense, the lowest offensive output Van Meter has put forth all season long. Most of the yards came through the air as the Bulldogs totaled 130 passing yards while putting forth a season-low 115 rushing yards on 30 attempts. Individually, senior signal-caller Anthony Potthoff led the aerial attack with 109 yards on eight completions. Potthoff also led the efforts on the ground with 102 yards and an average of six yards per rush. On the receiving end, four Bulldogs picked up at least one reception. Leading them all was Parker Fryar with 55 yards one score on four receptions.
On special teams, sophomore Chris Schreck had a strong day with 94 return yards on four return carries. Defensively, it was Parker Fryar and Bryce Cole to lead the way in tackles with 9.5 and 7.5 respectively.
Coach Eric Trudo has always preached strength in all three phases of the game and unfortunately against the Wildcats, it just wasn't' meant to be.
“More than anything they (West Lyon) are a great team full of great players and they just out-executed us,” said Trudo.
It may have been a heart-wrenching loss but in the end, the players still recall the great times of just being a Bulldog.
“We've been to the dome all four years that I've been here,” began Anthony Potthoff. “Being a Bulldog is the best thing I could have asked for.”
The 2019 Bulldogs end their season one win shy of a state title and conclude the year with a 12-1 record.