Iowa high school state football: West Hancock defeats Grundy Center for second title in three years
CEDAR FALLS — For the second time in three years, West Hancock reigns supreme over Iowa high school football's Class A.
The Eagles capped a perfect season on Thursday afternoon with a 19-14 win over Grundy Center at the UNI-Dome. It is West Hancock's third state title all time, and their second in the past three seasons.
Back in 2019, the Eagles went 13-0 again and defeated Grundy Center, 21-17, in the Class A state final. Two years later, they have run back a virtually identical season, ending with a championship game victory over the same Spartan program.
Grundy Center, who finished 11-2 overall, made an unfortunate bit of history, becoming the second Iowa team to finish as state runners-up three straight years. The Spartans join Dowling Catholic, who finished as the Class 4A state runners-up from 1970-72.
The Spartans played quite well on Thursday, racking up 344 total yards of offense. Quarterback Logan Knaack finished with 261 on his own — 184 passing, 77 rushing — and scored Grundy Center's first touchdown, a 1-yard run, to lead 7-0 in the first quarter.
West Hancock assumed control from there, scoring 19 unanswered. Braden Walk scored on a 24-yard run in the first quarter. Matthew Francis added a 19-yard scoring run in the second. Rylan Barnes hauled in Mitchell Smith's only pass for a 34-yard catch-and-run touchdown to lead 19-7 with 7:57 left in the third.
The Eagles managed just 251 total yards of offense, the bulk of which came from Francis, who ran for 119 on 25 carries. Walk added 67 rushing yards on nine attempts. As a team, West Hancock rushed for 211 yards at a rate of 5.1 yards per attempt.
The Spartans made it interesting late. Dayne Zinkula scored on a 9-yard run to make it 19-14 with 8:48 to play. Their next drive ended on downs, but they regained possession again with 2:38 to play. On a third-and-7 at West Hancock's 24-yard line, Knaack moved the chains with a 15-yard run.
That stopped the clock with two seconds left, but the clock restarted once the chains were set. Grundy Center got in formation to spike the ball, hoping for one more play, but the clock hit all zeroes as Knaack threw the ball into the turf, ending the game.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.