I’ll let any remaining St. Edmond football doubters in on a little secret: once a team reaches the state semifinals at the UNI-Dome, all caveats and qualifiers cease to exist.
The 2013 Class A champion, West Lyon, is up next for the Gaels. A potential title-game rematch with dynastic Iowa City Regina may be waiting in the wings, if head coach Dick Tighe’s squad survives and advances on Saturday.
Their draw for this weekend is tough. Trying to unseat the aptly-nicknamed Regals – an opponent that defeated the Gaels 35-0 a year ago to clinch a fourth straight state state crown – would be even tougher.
The ”yeah, but” comments have unnecessarily followed St. Edmond all season long. It’s as though Regina’s long shadow is casting a permanent cloud of inevitability over the Gaels’ second consecutive unbeaten march to Cedar Falls.
Regardless of when – or how – St. Edmond’s 2014 campaign finishes, let’s take a moment to remember this:
The Gaels are 42-5 overall in the last four years.
The Gaels have won 21 straight regular season games, and 17 in a row at home.
The Gaels have 10 playoff victories. Ever. Seven have come in the last two seasons alone.
The Gaels have 25 wins combined in 2013 and ’14. In the nine years before Dick Tighe’s arrival – from 1993-2001 – the program had 23. Total.
The Gaels have eight regular-season campaigns of eight victories or more in their 60-year history. Four have arrived consecutively since 2011.
The Gaels’ top regular-season scoring teams of all-time? In order: 2014, 2013, 2011, 2012.
There are no warning labels on this return trip to the Dome. No hair splitting or overanalyzing. And please, don’t shade the light at the end of the tunnel for these kids. They’ve made it. They’re back. Again. Let them worry about West Lyon and only West Lyon now. A state championship game encore would be monumental. Heck, even being in a position to do so is already monumental.
Seniors Landon Peed, Matthew Bocken, Chad Remsburg and Nick Hindt join junior Tate O’Tool as players who have started both offensively and defensively for the last two years. Seniors Ben Albright, Raff Naughton, Zach Gailey, Eric Kremer and Michael Faiferlick are current two-way regulars who were also in the lineup in 2013.
It’s not a huge group. They’re not flashy, or individualistic, or driven by attention and notoriety.
They just take the field every week, do their job, and win. A lot. More than any we’ve seen around here before, and maybe more than we ever will again.
Whether St. Edmond winds up 12-1, 13-1 or 14-0, the Gaels’ story is already one of unprecedented success. Of course Tighe’s team would like nothing more than to win the Class 1A state title, and I guarantee they’ll do everything in their power to pull it off.
That might be enough. It may not. Just don’t skip ahead to the final chapter of another historic season before these young men get to play it out on the field. Let them enjoy the week leading up to the game, and take the time to reflect on how far they’ve come.
As a community, we should appreciate what they’ve been able to accomplish up to this point. The rest is truly icing on the cake.
Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org