Bishop Garrigan secures improbable 8-player football title

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Bishop Garrigan celebrates beating Bedford during the championship on Thursday in Cedar Falls

CEDAR FALLS — The improbable dream for Bishop Garrigan came to fruition here Thursday morning inside the UNI-Dome.

Tate Foertsch accounted for three touchdowns as the unranked and unheralded Golden Bears pulled off one more upset, knocking off No. 2 Bedford, 39-30, to claim the eight-player state championship.

For Bishop Garrigan (12-1 overall), this is the second state title in school history and the first for long-time head coach Marty Wadle. The Golden Bears topped four straight teams that were unbeaten entering the game, including both of the most recent state champs.

“We like to run the football and we like to run the power game,” Wadle said. “I thought our offensive line once again did a great job with that.”

Foertsch, a sophomore, completed 7 of 10 for 109 yards with TD passes to Justin Bauer and Drew Lappe, adding 82 yards and a score with his legs. Senior Caden Roethler rushed for 106 yards and a score, with Ethan Marso adding a rushing touchdown.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Roethler said. “I’ve never had anything like that. I’m just so proud of our boys and what they’ve accomplished this year.”

Bauer finished with three receptions for 54 yards, Lappe had two for 28 and both Benjy Trainer and Sam Plathe caught passes from Foertsch.

For Bedford (12-1), Conner Nally ran for two scores and threw for another with Silas Walston rushing for 105 yards and a score. The Bulldogs had not qualified for the postseason since 2016, going 1-6 three years ago.

“There’s nothing to hang our hat on,” Nally said. “This year, everyone got in the weight toom and did their thing. That’s the reason we got here.”

Walston put the first points on the board with a 40-yard dart to the end zone only for the Golden Bears to answer with a 40-yard TD pass from Foertsch to Bauer that completed a five-play, 65-yard drive.

Foertsch ran in a 24-yard score in the second with Garrigan converting twice on conversion plays. Bedford cut the deficit to 16-14 before the half, but it was the Golden Bears coming out strong from the break just like they did in the semifinals.

Lappe capped a 13-play, 65-yard series with his score and Marso finished off a 12-play drive that covered 63 yards. Those two drives took up over 13 minutes between the third and fourth quarters.

Roethler provided the insurance score with just over three minutes to go in the game.

Andrew Lichter led the Garrigan defense with eight tackles while Bauer added seven and broke up three passes. Trainer, Brody Ludwig, Carter Schwab and Keaton Helleseth each had a tackle for loss.

The Golden Bears, who made the finals in 2006, suffered just a Week 1 loss to rival St. Edmond. They won 12 straight to end the season, equaling their win total from the two previous years combined after joining the eight-player ranks.

Wadle led Garrigan to three previous state finals including ’06, placing second in 1999 and 2005.

“This group of seniors bought in and they didn’t waver,” Wadle said. “They kept working hard and pulled everyone else right along with them.

“For all the kids that played in ’99, ’05 and ’16 that were close and didn’t win a state title, I told these kids this is absolutely for them too.

“We were playing for them.”


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