Monday, September 26, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Wilson sparkles as Saints tame Lions

You can stop Maliki Wilson for one quarter, you can stop him for two quarters and you might even stop him for three quarters, but nobody can stop Maliki Wilson and his horde of blockers for an entire game.

Linn-Mar tried Friday night and failed.

Wilson put on a dazzling display of running in the fourth quarter with touchdown runs of 71, 97 and 66 yards during a span of 4 minutes, 18 seconds as the Xavier Saints ran by the Lions, 45-17, at Linn-Mar Stadium.

Wilson tied one school record (the 97 yarder) and broke another with 26 points in the ballgame.

Wilson had rushed for only 34 yards heading into the final period and the Saints appeared to be in trouble with Linn-Mar ahead 17-14, but Wilson galloped for 233 yards in that memorable last quarter to shatter the Lions and deflate the large crowd.

Xavier scored 31 straight points in the final 8 minutes, 55 seconds of the game to win convincingly.

"My old high school coach Tom Kopatich used to say, sometimes a bomb goes off and you get on a roll," Xavier boss Duane Schulte remarked. "That's kind of what happened tonight."

Wilson caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Schulte in the first quarter Friday, but he did not accomplish a great deal again until he broke loose for those three long runs in the fourth period.


Xavier O-Line paved way for Wilson's record

Maliki Wilson grabbed the headlines last Friday night when he rushed for a school-record 291 yards and scored on three long touchdowns for the Xavier Saints, but he was quick to credit all his blockers for paving the way in a 35-26 victory over Iowa City Regina.

As it turns out, it's a mutual admiration society. Wilson praised his blockers, and the blockers praised Wilson for his big game in the season-opener.

"It's pretty incredible," Xavier center Sam Meyers said this week. "It's easy to block for a running back that can set up his own blocks for us and gets a ton of yards after contact."

Wilson snapped the old school mark of 271 yards set by Brendan Miller against Linn-Mar in 2013. He broke loose for touchdowns that measured 69, 31 and 62 yards against the Regals.

"It's impressive to see what he can do," said Ryan Jasper, who plays right guard on the offensive line. "He sets us up great, but again it all goes back to the scout team. They gave us a great look in practice and we knew what we were doing when we got out there."

Wilson collected his 69-yard touchdown on his first carry in the first quarter and his 62-yard touchdown the last time he touched the ball in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. All told, he carried the ball 25 times for a healthy 11.6-yard average.

"It's nice to have a back like him running behind us," remarked Max Johnson, who starts at right tackle.


No. 8 Eagles entertain young fans

The Kirkwood volleyball team put on a good show for their special guests at Johnson Hall Wednesday night.

The eighth-ranked Eagles dumped Iowa Lakes, 25-10, 25-11, 25-17, in a conference meet before a crowd that included about 50 young female athletes from Harding Middle School.

"We didn't know they were coming tonight, so it was good to see them all come in," said Kirkwood sophomore Madsy Richards, a Xavier grad. "That was pretty exciting."

A typical crowd for Kirkwood volleyball includes family, friends and Kirkwood student-athletes from other sports, but the Harding girls occupied a big chunk of the bleachers near mid-court, dressed in Harding green and cheering for the Eagles.

"Having little kids there makes the whole thing better," said Kirkwood soph Caiti Peterson, a Cedar Rapids Washington grad.

Kirkwood Coach Jill Williams enjoyed seeing the middle school athletes in the stands.

"It was fun. Heck, yes," she said. "If some girls want to watch volleyball we want them in the gym."

The Eagles got off to a fast start and were never seriously challenged, although Iowa Lakes (3-2) put up a mild fuss in the third set before the Eagles took control again.


Saints spike No. 14 J-Hawks, 3-0

The Xavier Saints have a talented volleyball team that appears very capable of reaching the state tournament in downtown Cedar Rapids this November.

That was obvious Tuesday night when the Saints whipped Jefferson, 25-18, 25-20, 25-21, in a Mississippi Valley Conference match at the Jefferson gym.

The Saints, who are ranked No. 12 in Class 4A, have gotten off to an impressive start this season, with two victories over ranked Class 5A opponents. First it was 15th-ranked Iowa City High last week, now it's 14th-ranked Jefferson this week.

Both matches were on the road, and it's a road that could lead to the U.S. Cellular Center for the state meet.

"One of our main goals is definitely to make it to state," junior Charlotte Richards remarked. "And not only make it to state, but try to make it to the championship.

"The team is really coming together this year," she said. "I think we're going to be really strong."

Xavier finished with a 15-22 record last season and showed promise, but it looks like the Saints are ready to make a big jump under new head coach Austin Filer, who previously was an assistant coach at Mount Mercy University.

Filer won seven championships during his professional volleyball career and the Saints say he's added a new ingredient to the team this season.


MSR covering Iowa football this year

If you've followed my sportswriting career here in Cedar Rapids, you know that I covered the University of Iowa football team for 10 years as the primary beat reporter for The Gazette.

Those 10 years, from 1989 through 1998, coincided with Hayden Fry's final 10 years with the Hawkeyes and included trips to the Rose Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Alamo Bowl (twice) and Sun Bowl (twice).

During the midst of all that, I was honored to be named the Iowa Sportswriter of the Year in 1995 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, a handsome award that sits next to the desk in my office.

I offer that information with pride and humility, but also as a prelude to the announcement that I'll be covering the Iowa football team again this season after an 18-year absence.

As some of you know, I was named the new sports director at KMRY radio earlier this summer to succeed Bob Brooks following his passing in June. In addition to handling the daily shows at 4:50 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. Monday through Friday, my bosses at KMRY have asked me to assume Brooksie's old role as the host of a 10-minute show on Sundays that will re-cap Iowa's football game from the day before.

The football show on KMRY will begin this Sunday at noon and will run throughout the season, with interviews, observations and news about the Hawkeyes.


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