SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – When you think of fall sports, football is one of the first to come to mind. Siouxland didn’t disappoint.

In Iowa, six teams punched their tickets to the UNI Dome where the runs of Newell-Fonda, Woodbury Central, and OABCIG ended in the semis while West Sioux fell just short in the Class 1A championship. But Remsen St. Mary’s would carry the torch in 8-man, riding the dominant effort they’d champion all year long towards a perfect season and their second State title in three years. Cementing the legacy of its eight seniors who had only two losses in four seasons.

“This is just crazy, I’m just trying to take in that we’re State champs right now so I mean it’s just the best feeling in the world,” Remsen St. Mary’s senior quarterback/linebacker Cael Ortmann said. “These guys are all my brothers. I’ve been playing with all of them since second grade. We all grew up together, we’re all best friends off the field and on the field, we’re best friends, we all get along so well. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.”

An encore followed in Class 2A. Iowa commit and SportsZone Football Player of the Year Zach Lutmer sought redemption for their 2020 runner up finish, Central Lyon/George-Little Rock did just that. Winning a low-scoring slugfest over Williamsburg to cap off an undefeated year and their first State title since 2006. Proving to those who didn’t pick the Lions to win that actions speak louder than words.

“The whole week our coaches and everyone on the team texted each other we will win,” CL/G-LR senior quarterback/defensive back Zach Lutmer said. “I think that’s the biggest thing going into the game thinking that you’re gonna win and knowing that you’re gonna win. Winning a state championship is something you dream about as a kid.”

Perfect seasons carried over into Nebraska. Pierce enjoyed a record-breaking performance from future Iowa State Cyclone Ben Brahmer in the State championship to return the C-1 crown back to the Bluejays. But it didn’t come before the all-Siouxland showdown of Norfolk Catholic and Cedar Catholic in the C-2 final, where the Knights flexed a ruthless defense and an unstoppable run game to shutout the Trojans to give Jeff Bellar, the winningest coach in NSAA history, his 11th trophy.

“It’s everyone involved, not just Coach Bellar,” Norfolk Catholic head coach Jeff Bellar said. “It’s other coaches, it’s athletes, it’s families that allow their kids to be coached. Some people may think coach is a little hard on this guy, my wife tells me that way too much. But, it’s more about kids allowing that to happen to try and get the best version of themselves.”

Elk Point-Jefferson continued those football fireworks at the Dakota Dome. The Huskies capping off their first State final appearance with their first ever Class B title in a thrilling victory over Winner, giving Siouxland, you guessed it, another undefeated season.

“It’s pretty surreal from where EP-J was to where we’re at today,” Elk Point-Jefferson head coach Jake Terry said. “It is one hundred percent credit to the kids who came before and these kids who buy into the process and want to work hard. The community support has been awesome. The communities of Elk Point and Jefferson were able to rally behind the program as one team and it’s been fantastic.”

On the pitch, Vermillion soccer saw their boys and girls programs ride the postseason waves all the way to the State semifinals. Meanwhile, cross country in Siouxland was treated to an all-time performance from Hartington’s Carson Noecker, who’d become the lone four-time boys State title winner in Nebraska history.

To the hardwood, EP-J and Dakota Valley volleyball enjoyed trips to Rapid City with the Huskies toppling the one-seed in the quarterfinals, while Nebraska churned out State champions. Howells-Dodge made it back-to-back titles in Class D-2, while Norfolk Catholic and Cedar Catholic faced off again in the D-1 chipper. This time the Trojans would come out on top, completing the Cinderella run in a five-set thriller for ultimate glory.

As for Iowa, Siouxland saw five teams State bound to Coralville. Sioux Center and Western Christian made trips to title games, but it was the Wolfpack who stood tall. Fighting off the ropes of a 14-9 deficit in the fifth set towards the unbelievable upset over two-time defending champ Dike-New Hartford for the Class 2A crown. David had downed Goliath, creating a moment the Wolfpack will never forget.

“I cannot believe that that just happened it does not feel real to me,” Western Christian senior Stella Winterfeld said. “This has been something we’ve dreamed of our entire lives. We’ve watched girls come to this championship and win it and we’ve watched girls come to this championship and lose it. We knew what we wanted, and we didn’t give up.”

GPAC football wrapped up our year sporting the longest season of the fall, with Morningside and Northwestern keeping our attention throughout. Mustang quarterback Joe Dolincheck collected his second NAIA Player of the Year honors along with numerous program and NAIA records that may never be broken. But it was Northwestern took home the biggest hardware. The Red Raiders advanced to their second NAIA national title game in three years, defeating Keiser for the Red Banner and its first NAIA national championship in 39 years. Conquering the ultimate goal behind a culture that’s been cultivated over the years while fifth year seniors ended careers on a winning note.

“Our wideouts coach came over to give me a hug and he’s like this is why you come back, this is why you come back,” Northwestern senior wide receiver Cade Moser said. “To end out on top there’s no better way to go out. It makes it all worth it.”

“As someone who played at Northwestern, there’s so much pride from our alumni,” Northwestern head coach Matt McCarty said. “I’m just so happy for all of Raider nation to experience another national championship in football.”