The Van Meter Bulldogs (11-0) headed back to the UNI-Dome this past Saturday, November 10 for a 4th consecutive year and the 5th time in the past 6 years. The opponent would be the West Sioux Falcons (10-1) who were making their 2nd consecutive trip to the Dome. In fact, this would be a match-up of two teams that won state championships just last season. Van Meter was the 2017 Class 1A State Champion and West Sioux was the 2017 Class A State Champion, so both teams were looking to add a second championship and both teams knew it would be a battle for 48 minutes.
West Sioux would strike early and often after both teams were forced to punt on their first possession. On West Sioux’s second possession, it took all of one play for Chase Koopmans to take the handoff and burst 56 yards for the opening score, and following the PAT, the Falcons would lead 7-0. On the Bulldogs next possession, Anthony Potthoff was stripped of the ball as he was sacked and the Falcons would recover on Van Meter’s own 10-yard line. Two plays later, West Sioux quarterback, Hunter Dekkers, would find Koopmans for a 10-yard scoring pass and the Bulldogs quickly found themselves down 14-0 with 3:17 left to play in the 1st quarter. Van Meter knew it needed to respond with a score of their own and respond they did. The Bulldog offense would get on track and march 68 yards in 8 plays with Anthony Potthoff scoring on a QB sneak from the 1-yard line on the final play of the 1st quarter. Sam Bardwell tacked on the PAT and Van Meter cut the Falcons lead in half to make it 14-7.
On the ensuing kickoff to open the 2nd quarter, Van Meter would recover the kickoff as West Sioux had trouble handling the kickoff and the Bulldogs looked to be in business on the Falcon 26 yard line. However, the Bulldogs could not capitalize and were forced to punt. West Sioux then drove the length of the field, but the Bulldog defense would force a 31-yard field goal by the Falcons that made the score 17-7 with 7:54 left in the 2nd quarter. After receiving the kickoff, it didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to answer. On the second play of the next drive, Potthoff would hit Zach Drummond on a short pass and Drummond would sprint 70 yards to the end zone. Bardwell would make the PAT and Van Meter was only down 17-14. West Sioux then put together their own 68-yard drive on 9 plays which would end with a 1 yard QB sneak by Dekkers, and with the PAT, the Falcons would stretch the lead back to ten at 24-14. Van Meter would not go quietly before halftime as the Bulldogs would answer with their own 75 yard and 9 play drive. And with 27 seconds left until halftime, Potthoff would find Spencer Lamb in the corner of the end zone with a 27-yard scoring strike. Bardwell would again put the PAT through the uprights and the Bulldogs would go to halftime down 24-21.
The Falcons would receive the opening kickoff of the 3rd quarter, but the Bulldog defense would force a West Sioux punt. Van Meter proceeded to go on one of their signature, ball-controlling drives that saw the Bulldogs churn out 84 yards on 16 plays. Potthoff would find JJ Richards over the middle for a 19-yard scoring pass and Bardwell would again make the PAT as Van Meter would take their first lead of the game at 28-24 with 2:32 remaining in the 3rd quarter. However, the lead didn’t last long as West Sioux used their hurry-up, no-huddle offense to drive 72 yards on 7 plays in only 2 minutes and 21 seconds to score on a 7 yard run by Dekkers that allowed the Falcons to retake the lead at 31-28 to close out the 3rd quarter.
Van Meter would be forced to punt on the opening possession of the final quarter and West Sioux would take advantage as Dekkers would find Kade Lynott for a 6-yard touchdown pass. This would stretch the Falcon lead back to 10 points at 38-28 with only 7:36 remaining in the game. However, Van Meter would continue to show the heart of a champion as the Bulldogs put together a tense 79 yard, 14 play scoring drive. Potthoff would find Richards in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score as Richards made a diving catch and was able to drag his feet before going out of bounds for the TD. Bardwell made the PAT and Van Meter only trailed 38-35 with 2:38 remaining. Van Meter would attempt an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, however, West Sioux was able to secure the recovery. So with 3 timeouts still available, the Bulldog defense would be called upon to get a stop, which they did as West Sioux would be forced to punt on 4th down. Following a touchback on the punt, Van Meter would take over on their own 20-yard line with 2:07 left in the game. The Bulldogs would battle their way down the field and gave themselves several chances to either keep the drive going or even score, but unfortunately would turn the ball over on downs as Van Meter would be unsuccessful on 4th down from the West Sioux 37 yard line. The Falcons would take a knee on the next play and the Bulldog’s season had come to an end just 3 points short, 38-35, of a second straight championship game appearance. The game had lived up to everything everyone had expected as both teams showed tremendous heart and championship character.
Once Van Meter’s offense started to click, it was running on all cylinders throughout the game as the Bulldogs would gain 445 yards of total offense (181 yards rushing and 264 yards passing) to only 345 yards (119 rushing and 226 passing) for the Falcons. Ian Abrahamson would again lead the Bulldog rushing attack with 115 yards on 31 carries. Anthony Potthoff as on point most of the night in the passing game as he would complete 18 passes in 28 attempts for 264 yards passing and 4 TDs. While Van Meter’s defense did make things fairly tough for West Sioux, the Bulldogs just couldn’t get enough stops as they allowed a season-high 38 points to the high powered Falcons offense. West Sioux was also able to take advantage of the only turnover in the game as they capitalized on the Bulldog fumble with a touchdown. Van Meter would finish the 2018 season at 11-1.
Van Meter’s defensive tackle leaders vs. West Sioux included:
Parker Fryar – 6.5 Tackles
Brett Berg – 4.5 Tackles (including 2 Asst TFL & 1 Asst Sack)
Kasey O’Brien – 4.5 Tackles (including 2 Solo TFL & 1 Solo Sack)
Chris Reames – 4 Tackles (including 2 Solo TFL)
Cameron Smolik – 4 Tackles (including 1 Solo TFL)
Hunter Coyle – 3.5 Tackles (including 1 Asst TFL & 1 Asst Sack)
Please click on the following link for complete offensive and defensive stats from the game: Van Meter 35 – West Sioux 38 (Game Stats)
Thanks to all parents and fans for the tremendous support of your Bulldogs all season long! GO DAWGS!!
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