By DANA BECKER
Fourth-ranked (Class A) Bishop Garrigan put on a complete performance here Friday night inside Dodger Stadium, capping a unbeaten regular season with a 40-6 victory over St. Edmond.
The Golden Bears (9-0 overall, 7-0 in District 2) will now host a first round playoff game next Friday night in Algona against a likely district runner-up or one of the wild-card picks. The complete playoff bracket will be released this morning.
Marty Wadle picked up his school-leading 180th career win with the victory, as only the referees were able to contain the Bishop Garrigan offense in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Brad Capesius ran a keeper on the third play from scrimmage for the Golden Bears, faking out the entire Gael (2-7, 1-6) defense, running untouched 45 yards to the end zone.
However, the officials believed fullback Grant Buscherfeld had the ball and blew their whistles, resulting in a replay of first-down. Garrigan went on to score on the drive, as they did on the ensuing two drives that followed.
“It’s happened before with Brett Capesius, who is Brad’s brother and on our coaching staff,” Wadle said. “It’s just one of those things that you hate to see happen and you know the officials hate to have happen, too. Thankfully, we were able to keep moving and get that one in the end zone.
“Normally before the game I’ll mention to (the referees) that we run that play just so that they are aware of it. I didn’t do that (last night).”
Capesius, who finished his brief night 7 of 9 passing for 159 yard and added 32 more yards on the ground, is in his first season under center after replacing current University of Northern Iowa football player Zac Kibby and three-year starter Reece Wadle.
“We have a great offensive line and great skill players around me that make it fun to run the offense,” Capesius said. “(The inadvertent whistle play) was just something that happens. I’m glad we were able to take it in stride and keep moving the ball.”
Gibson Behr went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season, finishing his night with 99 yards rushing and another 107 on two catches from Capesius. The senior took a screen pass deep in Gael territory late in the second quarter and darted his way 85 yards for a score.
Grant Buscherfeld added three rushing touchdowns, while Max Patkins had 70 yards and a score.
“They just have so many weapons,” SEHS head coach Dick Tighe said. “They are so big, strong and fast on offense, but I was even more impressed with their defense. We knew that we would have trouble moving the ball on them after seeing film, but in person, they were even better.”
The Golden Bears held St. Edmond to just 12 yards of total offense in the opening 24 minutes and zero first downs. They finally broke through in the fourth, as sophomore quarterback Andrew Gibb found Will Woodruff on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Bishop Garrigan pitched four consecutive shutouts to start district play and finished the seven-game league slate having allowed just 18 total points. Ben Degen had a fumble recovery and interception, while Sam Trainer also recovered a fumble.
“Coach (Chad) Hall gets the credit for what the defense has done,” Wadle said. “He had some big shoes to fill when Ron Patterson stepped down, but he’s done a great job. The kids really take a lot of pride in the defense and they have only gotten better as the year has progressed.”
The Golden Bears have now won two straight over St. Edmond in a series that dates back to 1959 after losing eight in a row. They have won 18 consecutive regular season games and are 20-1 over their last 21 overall.
Friday night marked the final appearance in a Gael uniform for seniors Connor Allison, Logan Fear, Tyler McCarville, Charlie Doyle and Max Wallace.
“I’m proud of the kids who stuck it out and finished the year for us,” Tighe said. “I guess the one shining light to the season was that we had to play so many young kids and they really stepped up and developed on the field. They had to learn as we went, but it should give us a bright future.”
Fear, who went over the 1,000-yard mark earlier this season in his career, had a sack on defense. Freshman Jackson Bemrich also recovered a fumble.