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G-R replaces last year’s loss with long-awaited championship

November 29, 2015
ADAM RING - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

CEDAR FALLS - As Eric Stoakes broke off a 53-yard touchdown run to give the Rebels a 45-20 lead with 4:41 to play, Gladbrook-Reinbeck offensive lineman Dalton Schwartz threw his arms in the air signaling a touchdown, even though Stoakes was still about 18 yards from having reached the end zone.

That was the moment.

That was when it hit Schwartz the Rebels were going to be state champions.

Article Photos

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team poses with its Class A state champion trophy after defeating Akron-Westfield 52-20 in Thursday’s title game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Photo by Ross Thede

Stoakes would run for another touchdown for good measure, his fourth of the day, a little more than a minute later to put an exclamation point on G-R's 52-20 win over Akron-Westfield, giving Gladbrook-Reinbeck its first state football title in school history, in the Class A title game Thursday at the UNI-Dome.

"Can't put it to words, it's just a great feeling right now," Schwartz said. "Coming out as state champs, finishing the career like that is just great."

The taste of victory to end the season had more flavor to it, replacing the bitterness of how the football season ended a year ago. G-R came up just short of winning it all when Logan-Magnolia scored a touchdown in the final minute to sweep the rug out from under the Rebels, 28-24.

On Thursday, G-R put up more points right away than it needed to win, scoring early and often. Stoakes took off for an 80-yard touchdown on the Rebels' second offensive play of the game. Jake Schuman used his legs and arm to guide the Rebels to three more first-quarter touchdowns, ripping off TD runs of 32 and 45 yards, then throwing a bullet to Erik Knaack for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

When all-state starting quarterback Cam Kickbush broke his collarbone in the semifinals a year ago, Schuman was forced into unexpected action. Schuman didn't have a hand in any touchdowns in last year's title game, but the added postseason experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

"I just have to keep my composure, stay inside the offense. Don't get crazy, and do pretty much what we do in practice," Schuman said of what he learned from playing at this time a year ago. "We knew we had to keep our highs and lows controlled. We're going to have adversity, and we just know with that experience that we had from last year, we can't get too up or down."

Stoakes, who ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns in last year's loss, ran for 282 yards Thursday, setting a Class A championship game record. Stoakes set a single-season school record in 2014, running for 2,473 yards, amassing nearly 55 percent of his career 4,534 rushing yards in one campaign.

"It's kind of nice coming from last year," Stoakes said. "Right now it just kind of feels like a game, but it'll sink in.

"It feels like we accomplished what we started four years ago."

Winning a state championship after coming up just short of winning it the year prior is about more than just winning a game on a football field for the Rebels.

"It's huge," said G-R coach John Olson. "We're called Gladbrook-Reinbeck. We're all Rebels. There's obviously adversity going in our communities right now. It's tough. It's not easy to deal with, but we're doing the best we can to move forward. This is who we are, staying in the moment, and trying to make sure we move forward as a school district. It's not what everybody wants, but it's something we have to deal with.

"You have to deal with adversity, and how are you going to handle adversity? Because we're all going to face it. These kids are going to face adversity. Our community is going to face more adversity, but how are we going to handle that adversity? How are we going to treat each other? How are we going to act towards each other? ... Those are the things we try to teach to raise championship kids. If a championship happens because we have championship kids, awesome."



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