Viking Joseph Bockman (6) breaks up a pass intended for the Western Dubuque receiver in the end zone Friday night. (Photo by Becky Walz)
Viking Joseph Bockman (6) breaks up a pass intended for the Western Dubuque receiver in the end zone Friday night. (Photo by Becky Walz)

Like most of the games this season, things clicked for the Decorah football team (6-1, 4-1) Friday night as the Vikings topped Epworth, Western Dubuque (4-3, 3-2) in the regular-season finale to secure the district title and a first-round postseason bye. Decorah outscored Epworth, 35-20, at Viking Stadium for the victory.

“We are so proud of our team in winning this district title. The football in our league is excellent, and to play well enough to win is a tribute to their efforts. Many players had to train on their own for months. We have played pretty good football for the season, and want to carry it into the post-season,” said Coach Pat Trewin. “Our coaching staff has done a great job all year. Everybody works hard and plays their part. Our team is this way too. We get almost everybody on the field each game to contribute to victories.”

Big plays

Things got off to a good start with the Viking defense forcing Western Dubuque to punt on its first possession. With the Red and Blue offense clicking, Decorah rambled down the field 77 yards in eight plays to score when Cael Luzum dove over the goal line with 5:39 left in the first quarter. In the Bobcats’ second possession, the home defense hunkered down and forced another punt and was back in the end zone with 2:09 remaining to take a 14-0 lead.

After Decorah went three and out and was forced to punt, Western Dubuque began to find some momentum. Eating up the clock on an 83-yard drive, the Bobcats finished with a touchdown with nearly half the second period gone. Exchanging the ball on downs, the offense for both squads fell silent for the remainder of the half, leaving Decorah leading 14-7 at the break.

Keenan Tyler gave the Vikes some extra breathing room when his name was called to carry the pigskin for three yards with 6:05 left in the third. Western Dubuque soon responded, needing to only go 38 yards in three plays to score as Decorah held a 21-13 lead with 12:00 left to play.

Opening the fourth period with possession of the ball, Western Dubuque continued to go to the air which allowed Decorah’s Joseph Bockman to rise up for a 34-yard pick six, putting the Vikings ahead 28-13 with 10:16 remaining in the game. With 7:56 on the board, Western Dubuque put up its final tally of the game. Decorah was able to put the game on ice with 1:35 to play when Tyler found clear sailing on a 30-yard carry into the end zone to make the score 35-20 in favor of the Vikes.

“The fourth quarter looked like the Decorah Vikings of old - play physical and run the ball even when the other team knows you are going to do it,” noted Coach Trewin.

Rising to the occasion

“It was neat to see some other players get to play some offense and score. Keenan Tyler has been excellent as our middle linebacker and on special teams. We know he has some offensive skills too, and wanted to utilize his size and toughness in running the ball,” noted Coach Trewin.

Tyler rushed 10 times for 81 yards, scoring three times, while Brody Young had seven carries for 57 yards. On the board with 48 yards rushing apiece were Cael Luzum and Briggs Duwe. At the QB, Duwe also completed 12-for-21 passes for 123 yards.

Joseph Bockman caught seven passes for 66 yards, while Young caught two. Jacob Pipho, Kody Bodensteiner and Kyle Renken each had one reception.

Leading the defense was Tyler with 10 solo and four assisted tackles. Luzum was there for eight solo and two assisted tackles, two being tackles for loss. Jackson Rolfs had four assisted and four solo stops. Nate Rolfs, Charlie Robinson and Mason O’Hara all had tackles for loss.

Final thoughts

“I also want to mention the juniors that have played junior varsity football most of the time. It is an excellent chance to play, grow and have fun, but it also helps the program. I know they will make bigger contributions to post-season games and the growth they have made will work right into other sports and into next year,” noted Coach Trewin. “It will be nice to get a couple of days off to rest and heal. We will go back to work on Tuesday to prepare for game one of the playoffs. When you practice as hard as we do, you can get banged up in practice too. It is unusual to have a week without a game in high school football, but we will do some things to keep sharp and focused.”

Earning a first-round bye, the Vikings will wait until Friday, Oct. 23, to enter the postseason versus the winner of the Charles City and Wahlert Catholic contest.