Bishop Garrigan faces St. Albert in A semifinals

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Bishop Garrigan's Gibson Behr and Max Patkins celebrates beating West Hancock 12-8 during class A quarterfinals on Friday

CEDAR FALLS — Forty-four combined wins against zero defeats this season.

Seven state championships and seven runner-up trophies all-time.

A total of 486 career victories by the coaching quartet.

That is what the four Class A football qualifiers bring to the UNI-Dome today between them.

No. 4 Bishop Garrigan will meet third-ranked Council Bluffs St. Albert at 1:06 p.m. after top-rated Saint Ansgar collides with No. 2 and defending state champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck at 10:06 a.m.

Marty Wadle, who has directed the Golden Bears (11-0 overall) to a pair of state runner-up finishes, understands just how difficult the journey to the final four can be.

“This is the first time in 11 years we have been in the same class as Saint Ansgar and St. Albert,” Wadle said. “These are four very good, solid football programs and that is what you want in the semifinals.”

Last year, Bishop Garrigan entered the postseason with a No. 1 ranking and perfect record, but were ousted by Denver at home. Several starters returned this fall, including all-state running back Gibson Behr.

Behr hasn’t missed a beat, rushing for 1,318 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 166 carries. Fellow seniors Max Patkins and Grant Buscherfeld have 810 yards and 16 combined touchdowns, but the biggest new face has been quarterback Brad Capesius.

The sophomore, who replaced current University of Northern Iowa player Zac Kibby, has 860 yards and nine TDs passing and another 327 yards and six scores on the ground.

“We’ve had a good week of prep,” Wadle said. “At this stage of the game, you either know it or you don’t. We’ve been going through practice with a quick tempo, full speed and working on timing.”

Behr has flashed his amazing speed in all different areas. He has 1,872 combined yards rushing, receiving and in returns, scoring 24 touchdowns. For his career, he has 4,014 yards and 48 touchdowns.

Garrigan is sixth in its class in total offense and fifth in points scored, but more importantly, the Golden Bear defense has been lights out.

Led by Chase Winkel and Grant Buscherfeld, the Chad Hall-led unit has allowed just 67 points all year, including 33 points to A teams. Only 2A qualifier Southeast Valley has reached double digits vs. BGHS this year, scoring 28 in Week 2.

Behr and Vaske each have three interceptions, with Bishop Garrigan forcing a total of 28 turnovers on the year.

In the quarterfinals, the Golden Bears showed that they can win even when they are pushed to the limits, holding off West Hancock for a 12-8 triumph. They are 22-1 over their last 23 games played.

The Falcons (11-0) survived a pair of close battles in the first and quarterfinal rounds, besting 2015 runner-up Akron-Westfield, 24-21, and West Sioux, 21-14. They were the only team to defeat Carroll Kuemper during the regular season, earning a 21-13 victory over the 3A quarterfinalist.

Junior Luke Waters has thrown for 641 yards and 10 touchdowns, with classmates Tyler Blaha (20 receptions, 348 yards, 6 TDs) and Joseph Liston (12-137-4) serving as his top targets.

“They are a young team, but they do a lot of nice things,” Wadle said. “Waters isn’t your prototypical quarterback, but he does a nice job of running the offense.”

Waters is the younger brother of former Kansas State University and Iowa Western standout Jake Waters. Another brother, Matt, was a starting receiver for Ohio University.

Another junior, Luke Gronstal, is the leading rusher with 762 yards and 10 scores, while Waters adds another 438 and nine TDs.

On defense, the Falcons have intercepted 14 passes and forced five fumbles. They also have 14 sacks and 34 tackles for loss as a collective unit, led by Waters and Blake Rallis.

Kevin Culjat is in his eighth season with the Falcons, where he has gone 83-13 overall. They have four state titles and three runner-up finishes.

During the regular season, Council Bluffs St. Albert defeated Earlham, 49-0, while Bishop Garrigan posted a 37-6 victory over that same team in the first round of the playoffs.

In the first semifinal, Saint Ansgar (11-0) is seeking its second title after winning gold in 2011. They have two 1,000-yard running backs in Parker Hendrickson and Dayton Smith, while Boerjan Ben has 906 yards passing. The Saints are scoring 45.6 points a game and allowing just 12 under 17th-year head coach Drew Clevenger.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck (11-0) has won 21 consecutive games, including its first state crown a year ago. The Rebels and head coach John Olson allow just 5.3 points a game and are led on offense by Hunter Lott, who is completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,438 yards and 17 TDs to just two interceptions.