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Sunday, September 25, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor
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Metro Sports Report

Smooth Saints roll by Decorah

DECORAH - Smooooth.

That's the best way to describe how the Xavier Saints played football Friday night.

Smooooth, with a lot of extra "o's" for the offense.

The top-ranked Saints enjoyed touchdown drives of 72, 71, 87, 80 and 73 yards and collected a big heaping of revenge against the Decorah Vikings, 38-6, in a Class 3A district game in Decorah.

The Vikings upset the Saints in the Class 3A playoffs in Cedar Rapids last year, handing Xavier its only loss of the season.

"We were ready to play," said Xavier tailback Maliki Wilson, who cracked 200 yards for the third time this season. "After last year, we all hit the weight room and we've been looking forward to this for a whole year.

"None of us really like them after last year," he said.

Wilson did not mean the Saints personally disliked the Vikings. Rather, he meant they didn't like what the Vikings did to them a year ago.

"We learned from our mistakes and we just tried to execute," said Wilson, who rushed 26 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns, including a 76-yard burst in the second half. "I think tonight we all wanted to hit somebody. That's football, though."

Bryce Schulte hit 10 of 13 passes for 171 yards in his sharpest game of the year, with Nolan Butkowski hauling in four of those throws for 127 yards.

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Rodriguez gives Saints rare weapon at fullback

On most high school football teams, the fullback has one primary assignment that overshadows everything else.

He's supposed to block, block and block some more.

Erik Rodriguez is certainly an outstanding blocker for the Xavier Saints, but he's also an accomplished runner and a good receiver for the No. 1 team in Class 3A.

If Xavier's opponents worry too much about tailback Maliki Wilson or quarterback Bryce Schulte, Rodriguez is very capable of making them pay a heavy price.

"Erik is a different weapon back there," Xavier Coach Duane Schulte acknowledged. "He's a nice kid, too.

"He's the perfect blend for what you need in terms of a Xavier football player," the coach said. "He's a super-nice kid in the hallways and in school and everywhere else, but he gets a little nasty in him when he crosses the line and plays football. That's what we want."

Rodriguez, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, has carried the ball 22 times for 164 yards in four games for a healthy average of 7.5 yards per carry. He's also caught four passes for 36 yards and is an integral part of the offense.

And make no mistake, he likes getting his nose dirty at fullback.

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Armstrong helps Eagles toughen up

Nobody wanted to look at Erica Armstrong's left hand after she dislocated a finger while playing for the Kirkwood volleyball team in a 3-0 victory over NIACC Wednesday night, although the trainer had no choice.

Several of Armstrong's teammates covered their mouths and looked away.

"They were about to puke," she said later.

Even Armstrong looked away as the trainer examined her hand and then popped the errant finger back into place.

"It was ugly," said Kirkwood Coach Jill Williams, who took a quick peek.

"It was smashed up," Armstrong confirmed.

Incredibly, she did not miss a single point despite the injury. "Oh no, couldn't," she said firmly.

Without a doubt, Armstrong is a tough customer on the floor.

The trainer taped her pinkie and ring finger together between sets and the 6-foot sophomore from Guttenburg and Clayton Ridge High School simply played on.

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MSR launching women's softball league

I was talking to a friend whose daughter plays college softball and asked him where she planned to play softball during the summer once her college season was over.

His answer surprised me.

As it turned out, there were no women's fast-pitch softball leagues during the summer in Iowa this year for players to sharpen their skills and enjoy some friendly competition.

Well, there is now.

I am delighted to announce that the Metro Sports Report will be launching a new women's league next summer for all players who are currently on fast-pitch college softball teams in Iowa and for all Iowans who are playing at out-of-state schools.

This includes graduating seniors who may want to continue playing next summer, but it does not include any high school players who have not begun their collegiate careers.

We have secured four generous sponsors to help us pay our bills and we have two high-quality softball fields to host the games at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids. Now we need to begin attracting the players.

The registration process begins right now (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER). You can register online and use PayPal to pay the $100 player fee, or you can simply mail the registration form and a check to me (Jim Ecker) at the Metro Sports Report at 2803 Q Ave NW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52405.

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Saints fall short against IC West

Xavier Coach Austin Filer liked the way his club rallied against Iowa City West Tuesday night, but he did not like the way the Saints fell behind so quickly in several of the sets.

The Saints put up a good fight before falling short, 25-23, 25-23, 13-25, 25-21, in a battle of ranked Mississippi Valley Conference volleyball teams at the Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

Xavier is ranked No. 6 in Class 4A and Iowa City West is ranked No. 11 in Class 5A. Both teams are threats to reach the state tournament in November, but Filer thinks his team needs to learn a few more lessons along the way.

The Saints began the season with 18 straight victories, including some impressive triumphs over ranked Class 5A opponents, but they've lost their last two outings against Marion (ranked No. 3 in Class 4A) and Iowa City West.

The Saints committed too many service errors against Iowa City West and failed to capitalize on other opportunities.

"We played really young tonight," said Filer, who has only two seniors on the roster. "We let our opponent get out to big leads and then halfway through the set when we were down 17-7 or 13-6 we said, 'Hey, it's go time.'

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