COUNCIL BLUFFS — On the same field less than a year ago, Southwest Valley celebrated the biggest win in its five-year history, an 8-7 triumph over state No. 1 Council Bluffs St. Albert at muddy Al Leber Field.
Entering this year’s contest, rookie Falcon head coach Pat Ryan resisted the temptation to make that memory the biggest rallying cry of the week.
“I thought about how we were going to approach it,’’ he said. “Did we want to look at a revenge thing? We didn’t. We just went with our regular game plan.’’
That was more than enough. St. Albert rolled to a 41-0 halftime lead and blasted previously unbeaten Southwest Valley 50-13 Friday in Class A, District 9 play.
The Falcons, rated seventh in western Iowa (Class 2-A/1-A/A) by The World-Herald, improved to 3-3 overall, but more important, climbed to 2-0 in district play. The WI No. 5 Timberwolves dropped to 5-1 and 1-1.
In the first three quarters, the St. Albert defense allowed two first downs – both by penalty. Southwest Valley managed just 103 total yards in the game.
Sophomore linebacker Connor Cerny, who had four solo tackles and two assists along with a game-high 95 rushing yards, said defensive coordinator Jake Gentile is giving that side of the ball a chance to succeed.
“He likes to tell us to be bad dudes out there, and that’s what we try to be,’’ Cerny said.
St. Albert broke open the game quickly with the help of its special teams. Cerny blocked a punt on the Timberwolves’ first possession, giving the Falcons the ball near midfield. Quarterback Lance Wright scored on an 11-yard run.
A low snap forced a hurried Southwest Valley punt into a crowd of Falcons on its next possession. Sophomore Jeff Miller picked it up and ran 25 yards for the score.
Sophomore Sam Rallis picked up a rolling punt near his sideline, got several blocks and completed a 78-yard return for a touchdown, giving the Falcons a 21-0 lead with 1:51 left in the opening quarter.
St. Albert’s special teams play had been hot and cold this season. It shined on Friday.
“It was definitely an issue to start the season,’’ Ryan said. “But coach Tucker Culjat has done an excellent job. He’s worked his tail off and put together a great game plan. And our guys are starting to finally buy into our special teams.’’
Southwest Valley coach Anthony Donahoo said the special teams miscues were a recipe for disaster.
“We preached, last year and this year, if you give them short fields, St. Albert is very opportunistic,’’ he said. “They’re going to take advantage of that.’’
Cy Patterson scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns on a 40-yard reception and an eight-yard run, and Cerny ran one in from the 31 to give the Falcons a 41-0 halftime lead.
That was more than enough for the balanced St. Albert defense. Senior Dillon White had what Ryan called his best game with six solo tackles, while sophomore Bennett Gronstal had a team-high five assists.
“Coach Gentile comes in with a lot of enthusiasm in practice,’’ Ryan said. “Then we just let our kids fly around and make plays. When we play with that excitement, we’re hard to stop.’’
Hunter Poston, a returning first-team All-Western Iowa lineman, was lost to injury for the Timberwolves early in the first quarter, while another starting lineman, Scotty Adcock, also went down in the first half. Donahoo said that limited his team’s attack. He said his club will bounce back.
“We’ve built a pyramid where the base is very strong,’’ he said. “So a loss doesn’t crumble us down. We still know how to win, and we’re going to continue to follow our process.’’
St. Albert will be favored the next two weeks, perhaps setting up a meeting with state No. 2 AHSTW (6-0, 2-0) for the district title in Week Nine.
“Our goal, as I’ve said all season, is to make the playoffs,’’ Ryan said. “We’ve gotten better each week.’’
Southwest Valley (5-1, 1-1) 0 0 0 13 — 13
CB St. Albert (3-3, 2-0) 21 20 3 6 — 50
SA: Lance Wright 11 run (Sam Wilber kick)
SA: Jeff Miller 25 punt return (Wilber kick)
SA: Sam Rallis 78 punt return (Wilber kick)
SA: Cy Patterson 40 pass from Wright (Wilber kick)
SA: Patterson 8 run (kick blocked)
SA: Connor Cerny 31 run (Wilber kick)
SA: FG Wilber 35
SA: Chase Morton 5 run (run failed)
SWV: Blaine Venteicher 2 run (Teagan Lundquist kick)
SWV: Venteicher 15 run (kick failed)
RUSHING: SWV, Aiden Gaule 12-31, Brendan Knapp 4-31, Matthew Johnston 2-17, Blaine Venteicher 2-17, Jacob Webb 1-6, Cade Myers 1-3, Dustin Lund 7-(-4). SA, Connor Cerny 9-95, Aiden Antisdel 6-49, Lance Wright 5-31, Bennett Gronstal 4-15, Cy Patterson 4-12, Sam Rallis 2-11, Camren Mardesen 3-9, Chase Morton 3-(-13).
PASSING: SWV, Dustin Lund 2-7-0, 4 yards. SA, Lance Wright 3-5-0, 66 yards, 1 TD; Connor Cerny 0-2-0.
RECEIVING: SWV, Aiden Gaule 2-4. SA, Cy Patterson 2-46, Sam Rallis 1-20.