“It’s going to be challenge but what an opportunity.”
Decorah football coach Pat Trewin sums up what’s ahead of his team as they travel to Cedar Rapids Xavier for the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A playoffs Friday night. The defending state champion Saints are on a school record 23 game winning streak, including a 14-6 victory over Pella in the first round of the playoffs last week. The two teams met in week two with Xavier winning 45-3. “We’d like to think we’re a whole lot better than the first time we played Xavier,” said Decorah coach Pat Trewin. “We did not play our best ball that night against a polished, experienced team.”
The old adage in football is if they don’t score, you won’t lose. That’s been the case with the Saints this year. “They’ve only given up three points a game on average and teams have only scored a total of five touchdowns against them this year,” said Trewin. “Obviously we’ll have to score more than the three points we did in the first meeting to have success this time.”
Quarterback Quinn Schulte threw for three touchdowns against Decorah, two of them going to Matt Jordebrek. Schulte added a touchdown run that night. Running back Braden Stovie led the offensive attack for Xavier with 198 yards rushing in week two.
Many expected to Saints to roll over Pella in the first round but Xavier had to stop Pella inside the Saints ten-yard line late in the fourth quarter to earn the victory. It was a rematch of last year’s 3-A State championship game. “It’s one thing to see teams on paper, but actually playing the game is a whole different thing, ” said Xavier coach Duane Schulte. “We knew Pella was going to play us tough and it was a good hard-nosed football game.”
The Saints being a veteran group helped earned the win according to Schulte , “Experience is the best teacher and I think our experience definitely helped last week.”
Quinn Schulte, the youngest of three sons of head coach Duane Schulte, leads the Xavier offense. He’s thrown for 1352 yards with 22 touchdowns and two interceptions. Schulte has also run for 656 yards and 17 scores. Braden Stovie has rushed for 1050 yards and seven scores through the first ten games. Schulte has also contributed on defense with three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
How much better are the Saints since the week two match up with Decorah? “It depends on the kid,” said Schulte. “Every drill, every rep, every play, every game, we’re just trying to get better and some moments we have and others we haven’t.”
“Looking at them on flim, they’ve run more plays and more formations,” said Trewin. “They’re certainly a better football team as well. We just hope our growth has outpaced their growth.”
Decorah has ran for over 200 yards in each of its eight wins. The last two weeks the Vikings have run for at least 300 yards, the first time they’ve accomplished that total in back-to-back weeks since 2013. In the first round match up, Kailer McCabe rushed for 138 yards and two scores and Drake Shelton rushed for 108 yards. It was the first time since 2015 the Vikings had two 100-yard backs in the same game. They accomplished that feet in a playoff win over Xavier with 2015 with Zach Lea and Garrett Wise surpassing the century mark.
As teams prepare for this quarterfinal contest, how much stock can they put in the week two game? “We hope it looks like a new opponent for them, ” said Trewin. “It’s good to have a feel for what they like to do. It’s good to breakdown that match ups. We certainly hope it can be a different ballgame Friday.”
“I honestly don’t know if there’s an answer to that,” said Schulte. “Bottom line in the playoffs both teams will be trying to win a football game and we need to expect Decorah’s best effort.”
“Through challenges come opportunities,” said Trewin. “The kids are excited to give it a shot. They believe this can be a different game than nine weeks ago.”
The two teams will meet for the second time in playoff history. Three years ago Friday, Decorah defeated Xavier 30-21 in the second round of the 2015 playoffs. Since that game, the Saints have won 18 consecutive home games.