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Gaels begin postseason trek

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla St. Edmond quarterback Drew Schaeffer rushes for a touchdown against Clarion-Goldfield/Dows inside Dodger Stadium.

The atmosphere gets taken to another level here Friday night as the St. Edmond football team begins playoff action.

Following a convincing win over Bishop Garrigan to conclude the regular season, the Gaels entertain Madrid in a Class A contest.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

St. Edmond (5-2 overall) and the Tigers (2-3) are paired in Pod 3 alongside defending state champion West Hancock and Manson Northwest Webster. The winners meet next week.

This is the first meeting between the two schools since the 2015 season when the Gaels picked up a 31-26 victory. St. Edmond was also victorious in the only other meeting, 41-6, in 2014.

“It feels really good,” SEHS head coach Matt Dillon said. “This is why we play this game to embrace moments like this. You want to play in games like this that matter so much and have so much riding on them.”

Dillon, who directed West Des Moines Dowling to back-to-back state championships in 2000 and ’01, also coached North Polk to the playoffs along with programs in Florida. In all, he has 13 playoff appearances under his belt.

Senior quarterback Drew Schaeffer continued his aerial assault on the school record books. Schaeffer has thrown for 1,484 yards with a 15-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, adding four rushing scores.

For his career, Schaeffer has four of the Top-10 single-game marks for yards, is second in yards and TDs, first in yards per game, second in yards per completion, fifth in completion percentage and has the lowest interception-to-attempt ratio.

“Drew has been amazing,” Dillon said. “In all my years coaching, only a handful of times have I felt so comfortable with a quarterback as I have with Drew. When he is in a zone out there, he is really, really dangerous.

“Being a former quarterback, I’ve always coached the position. It creates a special bond and I am just so thankful to have had the opportunity to coach Drew because he is a humble, thankful guy and a great team leader.”

Schaeffer leads the state in yards per completion at 23.2, is fifth with a 165.5 quarterback rankings and 11th in yards passing. His 15 TD passes are third-most in Class A.

Madrid played just five games this season, scoring wins over Perry (47-0) and Nodaway Valley (21-19). Junior Brady Leonard has completed 27 of 71 passes for 406 yards and rushed for 325 yards with seven total touchdowns.

“I think the big thing about Madrid is what they know about themselves having played just five games,” Dillon said. “I know we’ve been lucky to play all seven weeks this year because we’ve really become better familiar with ourselves on the field.”

Conner Williams is the leading rusher with 335 yards and three scores while Cayden Fuson has caught 15 passes for 276 yards and a TD. Both Williams and Fuson are seniors.

The Tiger defense is led by Leonard, who has 23 tackles including four for loss with a fumble recovery. Madrid has forced 10 turnovers including five interceptions, returning two of those for TDs.

Game notes: This is St. Edmond’s first playoff game since the 2014 season when they lost to West Lyon in the state semifinals. … Madrid’s last postseason appearance came in 2016. … Drew Schaeffer is just 233 yards behind Tad Lindner for the career record having already set the single-season mark. … Parker Oswald ranks third on the career list for receptions and fifth for receiving yards. … Kase Baker has 1,168 yards and 20 offensive touchdowns in his career. … Sean Flattery has rushed for 1,393 yards and scored 17 TDs. … Flattery has 161 career tackles and four interceptions, Baker has 56 and seven and Brock Stanek has 63.5 tackles, 11 for loss and four sacks.

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