Clarinda found out the Bulldogs’ bite was every bit as bad as their bark Friday, Oct. 25, as the Cardinals suffered a 49-7 loss at Van Meter in the regular season finale for both teams.
Van Meter entered the district matchup with Clarinda with a perfect 8-0 record and was first in the state in the Class 1A RPI rankings. Last season, the Bulldogs rattled off 11 straight wins before being edged by eventual state champion West Sioux, Hawarden 38-35 in the state semifinals at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“They are disciplined and their coaching staff has the kids playing really well. Any other team in 1A is going to have trouble when they play Van Meter. When they make their playoff run, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back at the top,” Clarinda coach Collin Bevins said.
On the other side, Clarinda entered the game with an overall record of 5-3. The Cardinals posted a 47-6 win over West Central Valley Oct. 18 at Stuart to clinch their first winning season since 2014.
After starting the season 4-0 in non-district play, the Cardinals finished 1-4 in the Class 1A District 8 standings. Those four district losses came at the hands of Van Meter, Panorama, Mount Ayr and AC/CG.
The nine district champions plus the next seven highest rated teams based on the state RPI rankings qualified for the state playoffs. Van Meter was the District 8 champion, while Panorama and Mount Ayr each earned at-large bids as they finished eighth and 12th in the RPI rankings respectively.
Just missing a playoff berth was AC/GC as the Chargers finished 6-2 overall and 2-3 in the district. The Chargers were handed a 39-16 home loss by Mount Ayr in the final week of the regular season.
As a result, AC/GC finished 14th in the RPI rankings. The Chargers were ranked eighth among the at-large teams and finished ahead of three district champions in the RPI rankings. Clarinda came in at 26 in the final RPI rankings.
With the district loss to Van Meter, the Cardinals ended the season at 5-4. Bevins said his first year at the helm of Clarinda had some important successes he will remember as the football program moves forward.
“Looking back on it, there were a couple of things that really stood out. Most important was how much fun the guys had. The guys were looking forward to coming to practice. We tried to stress to them that is not something that happens for everybody. We were fortunate for what we had and who we had,” Bevins said.
That included a quality group of 15 seniors. They included Alex Baker, Connor Brown, Dalton Brown, Jakob Childs, Ethan Herzberg, Ethan Jones, Nathan Lindsay, Jared McGregor, Dagen Price, Jacob Potter, Austin Roberts, Parker Rock, Kory Rogers, Preston Runyon and Isaiah Spire.
Although their high school football careers came to an end Friday night, Bevins said they had a valuable impact on the future of the team. Following the game, he said he thanked the seniors for their contributions.
“I told them I wouldn’t have wanted to play this season with any other group of guys. The corner has been turned and we’re ready for the juniors to take it to the next level,” Bevins said. “The change we had in our program would not have happened without that bunch of seniors. They bought in to what I’m trying to do and set the foundation for our expectations. If we do not at least finish with a winning season, it should hurt and not feel right. Those kind of parameters aren’t set if they don’t buy in and get everybody excited about playing football.”
The other thing Bevins said he was highly impressed with throughout the year was the tremendous community support the Cardinals received. Bevins said he spoke with Clarinda Activities Director Josh Porter about the gate receipts and how important it was for the players to have fans turn out each week for their games.
“The kids really appreciated that. They enjoy playing in front of a big crowd and putting on a show for them,” Bevins said.
Clarinda was hoping to put on one final show Friday at Van Meter and early on they did. The Cardinals and Bulldogs traded punts on the first three series of the game.
“We were right where we wanted to be after the first couple of drives,” Bevins said.
However, facing a fourth down on the Clarinda 27 yard line, Van Meter finally broke the deadlock with the first of its five touchdown passes on the night. The Bulldogs added the extra point to claim a 7-0 advantage with 3:59 left in the first period.
Then, in the closing seconds of the quarter, Van Meter added a one yard scoring run to extend the lead to 14-0. The Bulldogs then struck for 28 unanswered points in the second period to break the game open.
The four possessions of the second quarter for Clarinda resulted in two interceptions, a lost fumble and a punt. The Bulldogs converted each of the subsequent possessions into points to take a commanding 42-0 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“We spotted them 28 points there and you can’t do that against a team like Van Meter,” Bevins said. “Michael (Shull) threw a couple balls too hard that bounced off the hands of his receivers and we made a couple bad decisions. We have to take care of the ball better in the future to compete with teams like that.”
Shull finished the night completing only one of his nine pass attempts. Xander Pullen was on the receiving end of that throw for a gain of seven yards.
At halftime, Bevins said the coaching staff talked to the team about Friday being their last night of football for the season. He said they told the players to fly around the field and have fun during the second half.
“I was proud of our guys. Their energy was still good in the second half and we tried to bring ourselves out of it as best we could. I saw some smiles on their faces and there were some tears she there at the end,” Bevins said.
Since Clarinda trailed by more than 35 points, a continuous clock was used throughout the second half. Still, the Cardinals managed to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the third quarter and only allowed one touchdown in the final period.
Leading the defensive effort for Clarinda was Logan Green with 7.5 tackles. Lindsay and Price followed with 4.5 stops apiece in their final game.
Cole Ridnour delivered 3.5 tackles for the Cardinals. Connor Brown, Childs, Ethan Fast, Carter Larson and Jarod McGregor were each credited with three tackles.
Clarinda managed to avoid the shutout when Shull broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Nathan Barnes added the kick to make the final score 49-7.
Shull led the Cardinals with 11 carries for 84 yards. Brandon Stogdill picked up seven yards on the ground, while Connor Brown had one carry for four yards and Lindsay gained one yard on his only rush.
Following the game, Bevins took the juniors and sophomores aside to discuss their thoughts on the season. He said they agreed the Cardinals were too dependent on the run this year.
“They noticed on offense we ran the ball way too much. If we want to go anywhere, we need more like a 60-40 or 50-50 split between the run and the pass. In today’s football you cannot run 80 percent of the time and expect to go anywhere. You have to spread the ball around,” Bevins said.
With the football season over, Bevins said he is encouraging his players to wrestle or play basketball during the winter months. He said they also need to continue to spend time in the weight room in the winter and spring before embracing a more demanding summer program.
“Jumping into a winter sport is a good way to refresh your body and refresh your mind. Being a multisport athlete makes you a better person, a better member of society and a better member of the workforce because you understand dedication,” Bevins said. “It’s good to take a break from football in the winter, but success is not built in fall camp and during the season. Making a year around commitment to be in the weight room, out on the field and watching film will make your game so much better the following season.”
Clarinda at Van Meter
CHS 0 0 0 7 - 7
VM 14 28 0 7 - 49
VM - Potthoff 27 pass to Schreck (Madden PAT good), 3:59, 7-0
VM - Van Pelt 1 run (Madden PAT good), 0:02, 14-0
VM - Potthoff 28 pass to Koons (Madden PAT good), 10:05, 21-0
VM - Potthoff 26 pass to Van Pelt (Madden PAT good), 6:18, 28-0
VM - Van Pelt 2 run (Madden PAT good), 2:39, 35-0
VM - Potthoff 1 pass to Madden (Madden PAT good), 0:07, 42-0
VM - Archer 13 pass to Roeder (Madden PAT good), 9:41, 49-0
CHS - Shull 63 run (Barnes PAT good), 7:24, 49-7
CHS Rushing: Shull, 11-84; Stogdill, 7-7; C Brown, 1-4; Lindsay, 1-1
CHS Passing: Shull, 1-9-2, 7
CHS Receiving: Pullen, 1-7
CHS Tackles: Green, 7.5; Lindsay, 4.5; Price, 4.5; Ridnour, 3.5; C Brown, 3; Childs, 3; Fast, 3; Larson, 3; McGregor, 3; Dr Brown, 2.5; Howard, 2.5; Da Brown, 2; Schmitt, 2; Rock, 1.5; Jobe, 1; Jones, 1; Stogdill, 1; Dow, 0.5; McNeese, 0.5; Potter, 0.5; Roberts, 0.5