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Relax, Have Fun, Score Points: Waterloo Columbus Wins Iowa 1A

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Relax, Have Fun, Score Points: Waterloo Columbus Wins Iowa 1A

Waterloo Columbus learned to play to score, as opposed to playing not to lose.

Iowa's Boys HS league ended May 14 with the championship tournament, and Waterloo- Columbus picked up where they left off in 2019 with a Class 1A victory.

Waterloo-Columbus rode an excellent defensive effort to win the state, shutting out teams five times, holding almost everyone to two tries or fewer, and only losing to non-1A opponents Fort Dodge and Waverly Shell Rock. On May 14 W-C beat Denver 31-12 ans Bondurant-Farrar 14-0 to seal the deal. (IOwa runs a 7s league through the spring with a series of tournaments where teams play two games each time. Postseason seeds are based on overall record.)

Bondurant played pretty good defense themselves, but Waterloo-Columbus was able to control possession fairly well.

But, said W-C Head Coach Kaleb Boleyn, "we were not able to move it down field as we wanted, we’d send it out wide at they would be right their in our face. All credit to them they came in with a plan to slow us down and the executed it very well."

So the final game was 0-0 at halftime. 

"It was tight," said Boleyn. "We were able to slow it down run some pick-and-goes in close to get their defense to bunch up. Then we were able to strike quickly at the beginning of the second half."

Connor Knudtson scored on a pick-and-go, then a few minutes later Alex Feldmann was finally able to break off a long run for a score.

And with their defense working, Waterloo-Columbus only needed the two tries.

"What got us through would have to be these guys’ determination," said Boleyn. "They set their goals from day one that they wanted to be state champions. At a school where there isn’t an opportunity to do that in other sports, coming off a state quarterfinals loss in football, these boys wanted it bad and they went and got it. We preached all week that this isn’t time to live up to the moment, rather it’s time to keep doing what’s been working and they would be rewarded. They bought in, there were no nerves, the boys played smooth and they played fast."

That had been the team's motto all year—relax, have fun, and score points; the rest will take care of itself.

"The coaching staff made it very clear that they have to come into the tournament with the mindset of playing to score points, instead of playing not to lose," said Boleyn. "That’s my philosophy when it comes to the postseason. These kids have all the tools they need to be successful at this point. They know how to play; they know how to tackle; they know how to be an athlete. But are they mentally prepared to go into those high-pressure games and come away with wins?"  

Boleyn emphasized mental training going into the final week, knowing that as #1 seed his team might feel the pressure. The key thing was putting aside mistakes so you can keep playing.

"Making sure they’re able to stay stay focused, refocus when needed, able to turn the page and get back after it if they give up a score," he said. "We just wanted them to have fun and focus on playing rugby. Come Friday night they all found their zone and many of them were able to reach their flow state while playing. The offloads looked good, the communication was there, the tackling was excellent, and our work at the breakdown was top-notch."

In the end Waterloo-Columbus never lost to another 1A team, and won their second-straight 1A title (seeing as there was no championship in 2019). 

"I am just really proud of this team and thankful that they bought in, were coachable, asked tons of questions, and, better yet, had a lot of fun making memories that will last a lifetime," said Boleyn.