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State football: Van Meter advances to Class 1A championship game for third time in four years

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

CEDAR FALLS, Ia. — The Van Meter football team added another line to its sterling run of success on Saturday.

The Bulldogs defeated South Central Calhoun, 20-12, in the Class 1A state semifinals here at the UNI-Dome. Van Meter improved to 11-0 this season and will play in next week's state championship game against OABCIG.

Van Meter made its seventh-straight trip to the UNI-Dome this week, and will now make its third championship game appearance in four years next week. Only Iowa City Regina has been in more 1A title games since 2010, with six. (West Lyon, a 2A program this season, has also been in the 1A title game three times in that same span.)

"The kids have really bought into doing their job," Van Meter coach Eric Trudo said. "They really focus on improvement throughout the entire season, August all the way through now."

A stingy defensive effort and a mean rushing attack led Van Meter over South Central Calhoun again and back to the title game. Led by Dalten Van Pelt and Jack Pettit, the Bulldogs amassed 219 total rushing yards.

Van Pelt went for 170 on 29 attempts and scored on a 16-yard run in the first quarter to put the Bulldogs up 6-0. Pettit added 71 on another 17 carries and scored on a 1-yard plunge in the fourth to give the Bulldogs a 13-6 lead they would not relinquish. Those two have combined for 2,634 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns this year.

"This game was about us controlling the line of scrimmage and getting positive yardage on first downs," Trudo said. "We really needed to limit their diverse offensive attack."

The Bulldog defense suffocated South Central Calhoun's offense, which had averaged 30.7 points per game entering Saturday. The Titans mustered just 177 total yards of offense. Van Meter intercepted South Central Calhoun quarterback Cole Corey three times, all in the fourth quarter. Two of them led directly to touchdowns.

"Those were crucial," said senior defensive back Alex Jones, who recorded two of the three fourth-quarter picks. "We just wanted to make big plays and get our offense going. Those were huge."

This was the second time in as many season Van Meter and South Central Calhoun have met in the postseason, and their third meeting since 2015. The Bulldogs have won each matchup — 28-26 in 2015 and 10-6 last season to reach the UNI-Dome, then Saturday's contest to play in next week's championship game.

"It's a winning tradition at Van Meter," said senior linebacker Calvin Sieck, who led the Bulldog defense with 7.5 tackles. "We set the bar higher and higher every year."

OABCIG senior quarterback Cooper DeJean runs the ball through a pair of Sigourney-Koeta defenders in the first quarter of their Class 1A game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

DeJean leads OABCIG to 1A title game

It was the Cooper DeJean show in the second Class 1A state semifinal on Saturday.

OABCIG won its 24th-straight game in a 43-21 win over Sigourney-Keota. The Falcons, now 11-0 this season, are making their second-consecutive trip to the state title game — they won the Class 2A championship last season.

DeJean, the do-it-all senior and Iowa recruit, fueled another one of OABCIG's offensive eruptions. The Falcons put up 517 total yards of offense on 52 plays. DeJean completed 21-of-34 passes for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns and also ran for 73 more and another score. He's now up to 4,291 total yards and 54 offensive touchdowns for the season.

The Falcons scored on seven-of-eight drives on Saturday, and each lasted four minutes or less. The one drive that didn't result in points ended when DeJean was intercepted by Wyatt Sieren in the third quarter. Five plays later, DeJean picked off Sigourney-Keota quarterback Cade Molyneux. Nine plays later, OABCIG scored to go up 36-14.

Sam Sieren led the Cobras with 231 rushing yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. As a team, Sigourney-Keota rushed for 322 on 62 carries, making up the bulk of its 381 total yards of offense.

Next week's 1A championship game between OABCIG and Van Meter is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.