Charger Gridders Fall in Playoffs to Van Meter, 31-13
Updated: Nov 8
It was a season that began with some expectation that this could be a good one for the ACGC football team. As the season evolved and the team kept winning one game after another, the expectations became greater. With one game remaining in the regular season, there was some hope that the Chargers could compete with Van Meter in the season finale. But the Bulldogs were too much for the Chargers, and the regular season concluded with a 41-7 loss to the top rated team in class 1A.
That loss did nothing to diminish the hopes for a run by the 7-1 Chargers in the playoffs, and the team did not disappoint as it rattled off two consecutive post season wins over South Hamilton and South Central Calhoun.
The Chargers had reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs and were one game away from playing in the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls where the semifinals and finals would take place. Once again the vaunted Van Meter Bulldogs stood in the way. Van Meter has a football program that is among the winningest in the recent history of Iowa high school football. Over the last ten seasons, including this one, the Bulldogs have won 107 games and lost 13. That's a winning percentage just shy of 90%!
But the Chargers were not intimidated by the glossy record or the eighty player roster that Van Meter could boast. It was a battle royal Friday night in Van Meter. The Chargers took the opening kickoff and headed downfield for the first score of the contest. Cayden Jensen's 56 yard run highlighted the nine play drive that ended with Gavin Cornelison's one yard plunge with eight minutes remaining in the initial quarter. Charlie Crawford's PAT put the Chargers up 7-0 at the eight minute mark of the quarter. It was the only time that Van Meter had trailed all season.
The Bulldogs responded with an eighty yard drive of its own with Dalten Van Pelt going into the end zone from six yards out. The successful PAT by Lindsey Lindsey knotted the game at seven apiece.
Following an unsuccessful onside kick by Van Meter, the feisty Chargers once again drove the ball downfield with their running game, covering fifty six yards in thirteen plays to score their second touchdown. Cornelison's number was called on twelve of the thirteen plays on the drive, including a one yard plunge with 7:13 remaining until the halftime break. The PAT was blocked leaving the Chargers with a 13-7 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs needed just five plays to score their second touchdown with Van Pelt scoring on a twenty four yard run. The PAT put the home team in the lead for good at 14-13.
ACGC once again rose to the occasion and started a drive on its own 18 yard line that took the remainder of the half. With multiple Chargers carrying the ball, ACGC drove deep into Bulldog territory. With time slipping away, and only seconds showing on the clock the Chargers were forced to pass and Van Meter intercepted a Brock Littler pass with six seconds left until halftime. It was the last time ACGC threatened to score.
Van Meter took the second half kickoff and drove the ball eighty five yards to the Charger six yard line only to see the drive stalled by a mishandled center snap at the Charger six yard line. Katie Lindsey's successful 27 yard field goal increased the VM lead to 17-13 with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter.
After the Chargers were forced to punt on its first possession of the half, Van Meter again drove deep into Charger territory to the 13 yard line as the third quarter came to its close.
The Bulldogs completed the drive on a six yard halfback pass from Chris Schreck to quarterback Pettit with 10:18 remaining in the game. The PAT increased the lead to 24-13.
After the teams exchanged punts, ACGC started with the ball deep in its own territory at the 2 yard line with 6:11 showing on the scoreboard. The Charger drive stalled at its own 32 yard line and Van Meter took over on downs. The Bulldogs scored the final points of the game on a ten yard run by Pettit with forty two seconds remaining. Lindsey's PAT ended the scoring at 31-13.
The Chargers had two one hundred yard rushers for the game, as Cornelison gained 143 yards and Jensen was credited for 102 yards. Reid Rumelhart led the defense with 10 tackles, while Ben Marsh had 9.5.
Coach Matthewson was a bit philosophical in his post game comments. "I remember meeting the eighth graders, now seniors in 2018. Probably chuckling when we stated that we were going to turn this into a feared and respected program, especially after going 1-17 in the previous two years.
"But we went to work and four years later here we are. A program now respected by some when they hear 'ACGC.' A display of your effort and character was put on show Friday night. It was 17-13 to start the fourth quarter. You made people believe. And the future saw that. And if I know our kids well, they will be hungry for another piece. We attack success. And we don't fear failure."
And so the Charger season ended just short of a day in the Dome. However, so much has been accomplished, not only this season, but also in previous seasons under the tutelage of Charger coach Cody Matthewson and his staff. And of course there are the Chargers themselves who have accomplished so much over the last four seasons. ACGC has become a team to be reckoned with, and in the opinion of this observer--will continue to be!
Score by quarter:
ACGC 7 6 0 0--13
VM 7 7 3 14--31
Charger statistics: Passing: Brock Littler (1 pass with 0 completions)
Rushing: Charlie Crawford (4 carries for 14 yards and 0 touchdowns) Cayden Jensen (11-102-0) Brock Littler (3-11-1) Gavin Cornelison (30-143-1)
Tackles: Ben Marsh (9.5 total-4 solo) Charlie Crawford (3.5-1) Reid Rumelhart (10-5) Austin Kunkle (.5-0) Cayden Jensen (1.5-1) Brock Littler (.5-0) Dawson Muller (.5-0) Gavin Cornelison
(8-4) Seth Reno (3.5-0) Blake Newby (2.5-2) Dallas Jacobe (5.5-3) Payton Jacobe (5-2)