Ronan Thomas of Xavier throws a landing go in the course of the second quarter of a 4A State Football semifinal recreation between Cedar Rapids Xavier and North Scott on the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Thursday, November 10, 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Rapids Xavier quarterback Ronan Thomas had some fairly huge turf sneakers to fill when he inherited the beginning job.
He changed All-Stater Alex Neal, who led the Saints to the State Finals. Apparently these studs match nicely.
“He’s an inspiration to me to see him at that game last year,” Thomas stated of Neal. “I assumed I needed to be like that. He gave every little thing he had. He was very profitable.”
Thomas produced one among his finest video games of the season. The junior sign caller rushed for three touchdowns, threw for one other and handed for a career-best 249 yards within the No. 3 Saints’ 38-10 win over No. 7 North Scott within the semifinals of Class 4A State Football Thursday night time on the UNI Dome . The Saints (12-0) are returning to championship play for the second yr in a row.
“It means everything,” stated Aidan McDermott, Xavier’s senior. “If we can end this with a perfect season and a state title, that’s really all I want. We’ve been working toward this since the summer. That’s what I want for all these guys.”
Thomas had not began a university recreation till that season. During the low season, he confirmed indicators of his ability and constructed confidence in his teammates.
“He dropped pennies in practice over the summer,” stated McDermott, who hit within the third aim on an 11-yard TD streak and twice intercepted North Scott quarterback Kyler Gerardy. “I knew he would are available and lead us to the place we are actually. I knew once I got here in he was going to be good.”
Xavier established the run and took management early, scoring on his first two drives of 8 and 11 video games within the first quarter. North Scott solely ran 10 video games whole.
“Anytime you can establish the run, it helps to set things up,” stated Xavier coach Duane Schulte. “Having our offensive line and Grant Helmle blocking the way they did helped set the tone for the later pass.”
Thomas capped each possessions with landing runs. The first got here on a 1-yard QB sneak and received a wholesome push from full-back Grant Helmle to cap a 58-yard drive.
Thomas hit on a 3-yard right-end possibility, ending a 56-yard streak that lasted 4:13 and giving Xavier a 14-0 benefit with 1:20 within the opening body.
“Your family deserves so much credit,” Schulte stated of Thomas. “Ronan has lived up to his family’s expectations and goals. He’s a “team” guy. He’s not a me-type at all. He’s super smart and trainable. One of those kids you love to coach.”
Any butterflies had been rapidly smothered by the on-site success. Senior working again Michael Cunningham rushed for 96 yards on 16 carries, together with six carries on every of the primary two drives for a complete of greater than 80 yards.
“I know that Michael and everyone else running the ball is going to get the game going,” Thomas stated. “The linemen will enable you to try this. It opens the passport. I really feel much more comfy understanding it will likely be there.”
Xavier’s subsequent aim was a stark distinction to the primary two. After Xavier introduced the ball again to his 10 with a holding penalty on the primary play of possession, Thomas linked with Grayson Hartman for a 90-yard strike.
“It helped a lot,” Hartman stated. “The flow of the game can change completely, so it was perfect that we were on the gas all the time.”
Thomas’ pump pretend paired with Hartman’s double transfer allowed him to get behind the defenders and Thomas hit Hartman within the transfer for a 21-3 lead.
Running underneath the ball was straightforward, however staying calm whereas attempting to end the sport was harder. Hartman, who completed with 4 catches and 173 yards, rallied and was gone.
“The lights are starting to shine brighter,” Hartman stated with a small chortle. “At that second, nothing went by way of my head. i solely play football As quickly because it hits my palms and I begin working, my thoughts begins going loopy over it. I used to be simply attempting to outrun them.”
The groups traded fumbles deep in North Scott territory within the closing two minutes earlier than halftime. Xavier managed to get the ball final and acquired a 35-yard area aim from Kale Christensen for a 24-3 edge when the primary half was up.
Thomas added one other 1-yard QB sneak within the fourth, ending 10 yards on the ground. Xavier totaled 250 yards passing and Thomas was 8 of 10 passing for all however one yard.
“I knew it was a good game,” Thomas stated. “Everyone contributed. It was simply positive (statistically).”
The Saints meet leaders Lewis Central (12-0) within the championship recreation subsequent Thursday at 7 p.m. The Titans dealt with No. 4 Carlisle, 42-21, within the different 4A semifinal right here on Thursday. Braylon Kammrad handed for 285 yards and three TDs, together with 88 yards and two factors for Curtis Witte. Jonathan Humpal added 90 dashing yards and two TDs for Lewis Central.
“They’re so dynamic,” stated Schulte, watching a few Titans win over Carlisle. “Their quarterback is nice and their jam is nice. You have huge boys. It’s nearly like David versus Goliath.
“They are huge, quick and robust. We’re only a bunch (outsiders) attempting to get first downs.”
CR XAVIER 38
NORTH SCOTT 10
IN THE UNI DOME
First downs 14 14
Rush Yards 34-81 39-159
Passing yards 157 250
Comp-att-int 14-24-2 Sep 11-0
Total meters 238 409
Fumbles misplaced 1-1 1-1
Punts Avg. 3-36.3 2-37.0
Penalties 2-10 2-14
North Scott 0 3 0 7–10
CR Xavier 14 10 7 7–38
CRX – Ronan Thomas 1 run (Kale Christensen Kick)
CRX – Thomas 3 run (Christensen Kick)
NS – FG Liam Regan 30
CRX – Grayson Hartman 90 Pass from Thomas (Christensen Kick)
CRX – FG Christensen 25
CRX – Aidan McDermott 11 run (Christensen kick)
CRX – Thomas 1 run (Christensen Kick)
NS – Kyler Gerardy 11 run (Regan Kick)
RUSHING – North Scott: Dylan Marti 12-45, Kyler Gerardy 20-37, Jerrod Lee 1-3, Team 1-(-4). CR Xavier: Michael Cunningham 16-96, Adam Cook 1-26, Aidan McDermott 2-18, Thomas 7-10, Coleton Beasler 4-7, Grant Helmle 3-6, Noah Schimberg 2-1, Team 4-(-5 ).
OVERTAKING – North Scott: Gerardy 14-23-2-157, Drew Kilburg 0-1-0-0. CR Xavier: Thomas 8-10-0-249, McDermott 1-1-0-1.
RECEIVED – North Scott: Kilburg 5-35, Marti 3-25, Colton Voss 2-11, Miles Robertson 2-8, Cole Jennings 1-69, Hunter Fox 1-9. CR Xavier: Grayson Hartman 4-173, McDermott 2-40, Beasler-Weber 1-35, Cunningham 1-1, Helmle 1-1.