Solon a 'mirroring team'Washington leads Class 3A with 3,825 rushing yards and 57 rushing touchdowns
Washington avoided playing an undefeated team for the second week in a row, with the two unbeatens playing on the other side of the bracket.
However, it does have a date with Solon, the most recent state champion of the remaining teams. In fact, Solon — who won Class 3A in 2010 — took home three 2A state titles from 2007-2009.
Thursday, the two teams meet at 8:21 p.m. in Cedar Falls at the UNI Dome for a spot in the championship game.
“It is great for our community, school, players and our coaching staff,” said head coach Randy Schrader. “This is a big community thing. It is even better because our kids have worked hard. I’m proud to represent Washington and the surrounding communities in the Dome.”
Veterans on the team have mentioned playing at state in the UNI Dome all season long. Now that has become a reality.
“We’re going to the Dome,” said junior quarterback Daryn Sebelius. “We are not done yet.”
Washington, in comparison to Solon, has never advanced to the title game.
“Other people from other towns would think that this is a Cinderella story,” said senior Carl Sivels. “To us it is not a surprise at all. We have been working hard. We knew if we put in the time this could happen.”
The Washington players are well aware of its lack of postseason hardware.
“We’ve had our fair share of watching others be successful,” said senior Tanner Knupp. “Now it is our turn to defeat them and be successful.”
The last deep run was in 1997 and that team had several parallels to this team. It finished with a No. 6 ranking and lost to Pella early in the season.
“It has been a while since Washington has been there,” Schrader said. “It is a new year, a new effort. We have some unfinished business.”
No. 7 Solon is actually ranked one spot lower than the Demons, who broke the record for wins with last week’s win over Pella.
“That is a credit to the kids and coaches,” Schrader said. “The coaching staff has done a great job over the last three years especially. Our seniors paid the price and brought the other guys along with them.”
Solon and Washington are riding 10-game winning streaks into the semifinals and share an 11-1 mark.
The only thing that changes about playing in the Dome is there are no weather elements.
“I’ve only been to very few UNI games in the dome,” Knupp said. “I have been to a couple camps. That turf is unreal. The dome will feel like another road game.”
Both teams upset undefeated teams on the road last week, as Washington avoided facing Decorah — the school that knocked them out of state last time.
Expect to see the same playing style from both of these teams. The running attack is the go-to offense for both squads.
Washington leads the state with 3,825 yards rushing. The Demons have a firm grasp on first place for rushing touchdowns with 57 — eight more than the next team.
Solon, meanwhile, ranks sixth with 3,174 yards on the ground and has 43 touchdowns.
The Demons rank third in the state with 4,661 rushing and receiving yards. Solon is sixth with 4,348 yards.
Washington is one win away from advancing the furthest it ever has and two from its first state football title.
“(Each win is) a little bit sweeter; you got to win one more to get in the championship,” Schrader said. “They have done the work to put themselves in the position to do this. If they bought into our program and did the things we asked them to do, the opportunity was there. They are in full. It started with our strength program.”
The seniors have been working with Schrader for four years to get to this point.
“I tell them all the time, ‘We deposit all this money in the bank, and now we are drawing it out,’” Schrader said.