State's top running backs to face off in 4A quarterfinal game
The weather won't be a factor. The turf in the UNI-Dome will be sure and fast. It's a perfect setting for Terrance Freeney and Hakim Hill to put on a show.
The two running backs were the featured performers Monday night when No. 1 Cedar Falls met No. 5 Iowa City High in the Class 4A quarterfinals of the high school football playoffs.
Freeney has led Cedar Falls to a 10-0 record and is closing in on the state's single-season rushing record of 2,685 yards set by Chad Shuff of LeMars in 1992.
Hill, a state champion sprinter, has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards for City High, which was ranked No. 1 before a loss to Cedar Rapids Jefferson in its final regular-season game.
Freeney rushed for 341 yards and scored four touchdowns on a soggy field in Cedar Falls' first-round victory over Jefferson, leaving J-Hawks coach Dave Jacobson in awe.
"He's the real deal," Jacobson said. "How many times did we have him bottled up and he managed to squirt through."
Hill ran for 187 yards in City High's first-round win over Cedar Rapids Prairie despite playing on a bad ankle. He sat out the first 17 minutes, hoping his team could hang on while he rested. City trailed 12-0 when Hill entered the game and won 33-12.
"I wasn't about to let it be our last game," Hill said. "I just couldn't let that happen."
West Des Moines Dowling, ranked second in 4A, traveled to Sioux City East and the Maroons' fans are starting to wonder: Could this be the year? Will they finally end their championship jinx?
Dowling, which is 0-7 in state championship games, blitzed Ankeny 47-0 in the first round and is averaging 45 points a game. But running back Brian Kline warns against getting carried away.
"There have been a lot of Dowling teams that have made it to the championship game in the past, but they lost," Kline said. "They listened to the hype. We can't do that."
There were some interesting rematches among the 18 other games on Monday night's schedule, including two in 4A.
No. 6 West Des Moines Valley met No. 9 Newton for the second time. Valley won the first time 37-16, its 11th straight victory over Newton.
"We've got to go at them like we haven't played them before," Valley coach Gary Swenson said. "Nothing that has happened in the past in our series means anything."
Fourth-ranked Davenport Assumption tried to repeat its earlier victory over No. 7 Bettendorf. Assumption won that game 16-7.
District rivals Denison-Schleswig and Harlan went at it for the second time. Denison-Schleswig won 35-9 in late September to knock Harlan out of the No. 1 spot. No one has come closer than 25 points to Harlan since.
West Hancock got another shot at Emmetsburg in Class 2A. Emmetsburg won 31-14 on Sept. 22.
Also in 2A, Solon and Williamsburg hooked up again after Solon eked out a 13-12 regular-season victory. Solon also had a close call in its first playoff game, beating Mount Vernon 21-20 in overtime.
To win again, Solon will have to contain Williamsburg's Ryan Baethke, who rushed for 345 yards and scored both touchdowns in a 14-11 first-round victory over West Marshall.
The top game in 1A has second-ranked Southern Cal meeting No. 3 West Lyon, which won the last two 2A state titles and owns the state's longest winning streak at 34.