When it needed it most, Glidden-Ralston’s top-rated defense was unable to get a stop. On Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn’s final series, dual-threat quarterback Ben Specht converted a pair of third downs with runs that prolonged a drive that ultimately iced the Eight-Man semifinal. The Wildcats allowed a season high in points and fell 35-21 to the fourth-ranked Eagles at the UNI-Dome on Thursday.

Kreg Lensch wore an ear-to-ear smile as droves of Wildcat fans surrounded him and his players in celebration on the Glidden-Ralston football field. The long-tenured head coach had watched his team’s season end in the eight-man quarterfinal round three of the last four years. But he felt early on that this year’s group was different.

On Tuesday, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto made its first state softball appearance in 14 years. It also marked three years to the day since Tim Hupke — the former MVAO softball and girls basketball coach — was buried after dying unexpectedly at 59.