Tigers head to Pleasant Valley for first round of playoffs

A balanced offensive attack, coupled with a solid defensive performance, propelled Cedar Falls past Dubuque Senior on Friday night and into the 2021 Iowa High School football playoffs. 

Carter Ernst started the Tigers off hot with a 63-yard touchdown catch off of a flea flicker pass on Cedar Falls’ first offensive play from scrimmage, and they never looked back from there. Sophomore Quarterback Tate Hermansen threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns for Cedar Falls, while Caeden Janssen added a 46-yard toss for a touchdown in the Tigers 37-21 playoff-clinching win over Dubuque Senior. 

Trey Campbell’s three touchdown catches on the night tied the school record with Janssen for receiving touchdowns in one game. Jacob Kieler added to Cedar Falls’ spectacular offensive performance by breaking the school record for longest touchdown run with his 96 yarder. Kieler finished with a stat line of 24 carries for a career high 203 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Nolan North led Cedar Falls with nine tackles and Jordan Hoeppner and Owen Denholm added to the defense with eight tackles each. Hoeppner contributed to the impressive defensive performance even more with an interception to go along with interceptions from Tyler Raubs and Caleb Raisty. 

The Tigers closed out regular season play 11th overall in the RPI rankings and will face the No. 6 Spartans of Pleasant Valley in the first round of the playoffs. Pleasant Valley is a run-heavy squad, having thrown just 48 passes all season and having four players who have surpassed 300 total rushing yards this season. 

Quarterback Caden McDermott leads the team with 140 carries for 864 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sophomore Tyge Lyon has 495 yards on 74 carries along with 378 yards on 54 carries for Rusty VanWetzinga and Makhi Wilson’s 45 carries for 338 yards. Nine players have at least one catch for the Spartans this season, but they’re leading receiver has just four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. 

On defense, Pleasant Valley is led by sophomore Tate Lyon’s 70.5 tackles and Four-Star defensive end Andrew DePaepe’s 26 tackles and six sacks. 

Hermansen will get the start at quarterback for the Tigers again after his impressive performance last week, while Kieler will be making his first-ever playoff start at running back. He enters the game as Cedar Falls’ leading rusher, with 108 carries for 562 yards and five touchdowns. Hermansen will have several targets to throw to, in Campbell, Janssen and Aiden Sorensen. 

Campbell continues his impressive senior season that has seen him compile 30 catches for 592 yards and a team high six touchdowns. Janssen has added 23 catches for 379 yards and four touchdowns along with Sorensen’s 208 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches. Ryley Barnett has been battling a foot injury the last few weeks, but he, along with Hoeppner and Denholm, will be leading the defense against Pleasant Valley’s triple-option offense. 

This Friday’s matchup of 6-3 Cedar Falls vs 7-2 Pleasant Valley will take place at Pleasant Valley and is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. The winner will face either West Des Moines Valley or Ankeny Centennial in the quarter-finals.

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