HAWARDEN, Iowa — While West Sioux's players rushed up the hill from the playing field to ring their school's victory bell, Treynor coach Jeff Casey praised his team for the important step it had just taken.
The Cardinals (8-2) ended up on the wrong end of a 49-14 Class 1-A playoff game Friday against an explosive Falcon team that is highly motivated after moving up a class following its state title a year ago.
No. 5 West Sioux (9-1) rolled up 547 yards of total offense and overcame three first-half turnovers to advance. Treynor, making its first playoff appearance in five years, saw its best season in a while end.
But, as Casey reminded his players afterward, success has to begin somewhere.
"It started a couple of years ago," he said. "It's been a long process, and it's not over."
Junior quarterback Jake Fisher, who ran for a touchdown and threw for another, praised his senior teammates for leading the resurgence. Claiming a district title and a postseason berth was a big deal.
"It means everything," he said. "Two years ago, we were 1-8 and there was 55 points scored by our whole team that year. To go 8-1 two years later, with basically the same core guys, is just unbelievable. It says something about our coaching staff and all of the drive and the work we've put into practice."
On Friday, the Cardinals just ran into a superior team on a mission. West Sioux quarterback Hunter Dekkers threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Kade Lynott amassed 317 all-purpose yards and scored six times. He had three rushing touchdowns and three receiving in the West Sioux win.
Lynott fumbled the ball away on the second play from scrimmage. And Dekkers was intercepted in the red zone by the Treynor defense twice. But the Falcons still built a three touchdown lead by the half.
"Our coach (Ryan Schwiesow) said it was probably our sloppiest first half of the year, and we were still up 28-7," Lynott said. "We cleaned up a lot of things in the second half. And I think that showed."
Lynott had a 38-yard scoring run and a 23-yard TD reception in the third quarter as West Sioux extended its lead to 35 points. The rest of the game was played with a continuous clock. The largest lead was 49-7.
Treynor stayed in the game early on thanks to the turnovers. But its imposing ground game never got going. The Cardinals totaled only 18 yards on their first seven possessions, which resulted in six punts and a turnover. And when Fisher ran in from the 26 late in the half, West Sioux countered in 17 seconds.
"The defense made some plays when we needed it. Unfortunately, offensively, we couldn't quite get things going," Casey said. "They were extremely aggressive, and we weren't quite setting the tone physically like we typically do. That hindered us offensively a little bit. And after a while, they just wore us down defensively."
West Sioux extended its winning streak to nine and will travel to South Central Calhoun next week.
"A lot of people doubted us coming up a class," Lynott said. "We lost a lot of seniors, but we've had a lot of people step up. We've got a chip on our shoulder - this not being a title defense - stepping up a class."
Treynor's winning streak ended at seven. But its string of playoff berths is now at one and counting.
"What I'm proud of is. I grew up in this town, I played football here and I've coached here for 18 years," Casey said. "I've been here for a lot of lows, but a lot of really high highs. And these guys have what it takes, and they're going to keep working hard."
Treynor (8-2)..............................0 7 0 7 — 14
West Sioux (9-1)...................14 14 14 7 — 49
WS: Kade Lynott 3 run (Jason Topete kick)
WS: Lynott 60 pass from Hunter Dekkers (Topete kick)
WS: Drake Millikan 52 pass from Dekkers (Topete kick)
T: Jake Fisher 26 run (Luke Mieska kick)
WS: Lynott 33 pass from Dekkers (Topete kick)
WS: Lynott 38 run (Topete kick)
WS: Lynott 23 pass from Dekkers (Topete kick)
WS: Lynott 1 run (Topete kick)
T: Jack Stogdill 30 pass from Fisher (Jake Lang kick)
RUSHING: T, Christensen 12-50, Fisher 11-42, Halverson 6-36, Mieska 4-4, Tiarks 3-5. WS, K. Lynott 15-158, Dekkers 6-(-2), C. Koopmans 4-35, Millikan 1-3, L. Koopmans 1-2, Mora 1-1.
PASSING: T, Fisher 4-15-1 113. WS, Dekkers 21-28-2 351, VanBallegooyen 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING: T, Tiarks 1-40, Stogdill 1-30, Halverson 1-25, Mieska 1-18. WS, K. Lynott 11-160, C. Koopmans 4-34, Hernandez 3-60, Millikan 2-66, Schuller 1-31.