Varsity Football · Valley Falls Short, Finishes Season As 4A Runner-Up

Valley-Bettendor State Football_17

In a back-and-forth, hard-fought game until the very end, the Valley High School varsity football team fell in the Class 4A Iowa high school state football championship on Friday, Nov. 22, at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

Dowling Catholic, the No. 3 seed and defending champs, defeated the top-seeded Tigers 21-16. Valley finishes the 2019 season at 12-1, while the Maroons capture their Iowa-record seventh consecutive state title and 12-1 record in doing so.

Photos: Valley vs. Dowling in 4A State Football Championship-Courtesy of Rachel Naba

Photos: Valley vs. Dowling in 4A State Football Championship-Courtesy of Rachel Naba

Game Recap

Junior Lennox Krell hit a 27-yard field goal early in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. After a series of plays during Dowling’s opening drive, senior Drew Jirak made an incredible one-handed interception in the end zone — his fifth pick of the year.

It didn’t stop there, as Jirak and company continued to dazzle later in the half.

Midway through the second quarter, the defensive standout intercepted another deep ball on the Tigers’ one-yard line — increasing his season total to six.

During the ensuing Valley possession, on third-and-seven, senior quarterback Braeden Katcher and junior wide receiver Matthew Mahoney connected for a 79-yard touchdown.

Dowling retaliated with a five-yard touchdown run from senior running back Gavin Williams, minimizing Valley’s lead to 10-7 with under four minutes in the first half. Following a Valley fumble with less than minute to play, however, Dowling took a 14-10 advantage at the break thanks to a second Williams rushing TD, this time from eight yards.

The Maroons pushed the score to 21-10 on a long scamper from quarterback Hank Himrich midway through the third quarter. It remained 21-10 after three quarters.

Remember: These are rivals, and the Tigers weren’t going down without a fight.

On first-and-10 with under six minutes left in the game, Katcher aired a 57-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Ryan Neu. Valley’s two-point conversion was unsuccessful, with Dowling holding a 21-16 lead.

The Maroons went three-and-out on their next possession, and the Tigers began on Dowling’s 48-yard line following the punt. Katcher’s pass on the first play of the series, though, was intercepted by the Maroons’ Michael Keough.

The Tigers earned one final offensive opportunity after forcing another Dowling three-and-out, and started the series on their own 15.

After a few plays, the clock winding down, and Valley inching closer to a potential score, Katcher threw his second interception of the game on a deep pass. The Tigers’ comeback bid would go for naught, as Dowling kneed the ball until the final horn sounded.

Thank you, Valley football players and coaches, for a memorable 2019 campaign!

Game Highlights